LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Sen. Barbara Boxer is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate a rare polio-like illness that has so far affected at least 20 children in California.
All of the victims have suffered paralysis in at least one limb. In some of the cases, children had respiratory issues before they lost range of movement. Thus far, none of them have recovered.
“I was alarmed to learn that at least 20 children in California over the last 18 months have suffered from a rare polio-like disease that causes paralysis to one or more arms or legs,” Boxer wrote. “We need answers to what is causing this devastating disease in children.”
One of the victims, 4-year-old Sophia Jarvis, is no longer able to move her left arm.
“I saw her left hand mid-grasp stop working,” Jarvis’ mother Jessica Tomei said.
Jarvis, like most — if not all — of the other victims, did receive her polio vaccine.
Dr. Keith Van Haren of the Stanford University School of Medicine stresses it’s a rare condition, but wants parents and doctors to be vigilant to ensure it doesn’t spread.
“The frequency of the cases we’re seeing right now appears to represent to us at least a slight increase,” he said.
Doctors recommend that if your child experiences a sudden onset of weakness that lasts for more than a few minutes to seek immediate medical attention.
Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino counties confirmed to KCAL9 earlier this week that no cases have been reported, but local doctors say any polio-like disease is a cause for major concern.
“Some people lose the ability to move and sometimes breathe, so especially in a young child that’s obviously a very scary scenario,” Dr. Jon Willen of Northridge Hospital Medical Center said.
Boxer has asked the CDC to conduct a geographic analysis of where the cases are occurring to identify the cause of the disease.