Nav: Home

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018

A major review by UNSW Sydney medical researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

The study, by a team led by UNSW Professor Raina MacIntyre, Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Epidemic Response, is published in the journal Eurosurveillance.

"In 2014, children in the US began to be diagnosed with a mystery illness that caused a polio-like paralysis," says Professor MacIntyre.

"More than 120 children developed the condition, known as acute flaccid myelitis, in the US alone but experts were baffled as to the cause."

That same year there were also unusually large outbreaks of infection with Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68 - a virus known since the early 1960s to cause runny noses, coughs, muscle aches, fever and difficulty breathing.

About 2280 people in the US, Canada and Europe were infected with the virus, many of them children, and their respiratory symptoms were more severe than usual.

Clusters of the paralysing illness, also mostly in children, were reported in the same regions.

"This raised the possibility of a link between EV-D68 and acute flaccid myelitis. However, the virus had never been known to cause paralysis before," says Professor MacIntyre.

For the new study, the UNSW team analysed the scientific literature on acute flaccid myelitis. They applied the Bradfield Hill criteria - a set of nine principles developed to determine causality that are named after the two researcher who used them to settle the debate about smoking causing lung cancer.

"The scientific method Bradfield and Hill used to prove that smoking caused cancer is now an accepted tool to determine causality," says Professor MacIntyre.

"We are first to use his approach to analyse the relationship between EV-D68 and acute flaccid myelitis. Our results show that it is very likely that EV-D68 is the cause of the mystery illness and the paralysis of children.

"This link needs to be acknowledged so that public health strategies can focus on prevention of infection.

"The incidence of EV-D68 infections is increasing worldwide, and a genetically distinct strain has recently evolved. There is no treatment or vaccine for the polio-like illness caused by EV-D68, which makes it important to act quickly to stop outbreaks."

The virus is still rare in Australia. Hygiene methods such as washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of the virus.
-end-
Media Contacts:

Professor Raina MacIntyre: r.macintyre@unsw.edu.au

UNSW Medicine Media: Deborah Smith: +612 9385 7307, +61 478 492 060, deborah.smith@unsw.edu.au

University of New South Wales

Related Virus Articles:

Virus prevalence associated with habitat
Levels of virus infection in lobsters seem to be related to habitat and other species, new studies of Caribbean marine protected areas have shown.
Herpes virus decoded
The genome of the herpes simplex virus 1 was decoded using new methods.
A new biosensor for the COVID-19 virus
A team of researchers from Empa, ETH Zurich and Zurich University Hospital has succeeded in developing a novel sensor for detecting the new coronavirus.
How at risk are you of getting a virus on an airplane?
New 'CALM' model on passenger movement developed using Frontera supercomputer.
Virus multiplication in 3D
Vaccinia viruses serve as a vaccine against human smallpox and as the basis of new cancer therapies.
How the Zika virus can spread
The spread of infectious diseases such as Zika depends on many different factors.
Fighting the herpes virus
New insights into preventing herpes infections have been published in Nature Communications.
Strategies of a honey bee virus
Heidelberg, 23 October 2019 - The Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus is a pathogen that affects honey bees and has been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder, a key factor in decimating the bee population.
Tracking the HI virus
A European research team led by Prof. Christian Eggeling from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT), and the University of Oxford has now succeeded in using high-resolution imaging to make visible to the millisecond how the HI virus spreads between living cells and which molecules it requires for this purpose.
Prior Zika virus or dengue virus infection does not affect secondary infections in monkeys
Previous infection with either Zika virus or dengue virus has no apparent effect on the clinical course of subsequent infection with the other virus, according to a study published August 1 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by David O'Connor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues.
More Virus News and Virus Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Nina
Producer Tracie Hunte stumbled into a duet between Nina Simone and the sounds of protest outside her apartment. Then she discovered a performance by Nina on April 7, 1968 - three days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tracie talks about what Nina's music, born during another time when our country was facing questions that seemed to have no answer, meant then and why it still resonates today.  Listen to Nina's brother, Samuel Waymon, talk about that April 7th concert here.