The news about the mysterious "polio-like" cases has spread rapidly since Sunday; my Google News feed gives me reports from here in Canada to the UK to India. Most simply repeat the basic facts reported here yesterday afternoon.
The only new information today came in a news release from the American Association of Neurologists, which I posted here: US: More on the California "polio-like" cases. The formal case report won't be made public until the AAN's annual meeting in late April and early May.
I doubt that the media will wait that long, especially if any more cases turn up. Five children have been identified as suffering from paralysis, but the original LA Times report suggested up to 25 might have been infected. Now that alarm bells have gone off, pediatricians and parents will be quick to report on suspected new cases.
Two of the five cases have tested positive for EV-68, but it seems unlikely that this strain of enterovirus is the sole culprit. EV-68 may have been an innocent bystander, or the getaway driver; maybe we'll learn more in April at the AAN meeting.
Given the long rap sheet of the enteroviruses, however, I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the lineup of serious suspects.
Whether it's EV-68 or some other enterovirus, or something else altogether, this handful of cases has caught attention. That means a lot of smart people are going to be looking at enteroviruses again (if only to eliminate them before nailing the real culprit).
In the process, we may see some improvement in our understanding of other enterovirus diseases, and therefore some reduction in the burden they impose on our children...even including those still at risk of polio itself in Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Horn of Africa.