SACRAMENTO – It's not the return of polio, but doctors are worried about a new virus that exhibits polio-like symptoms that develop very rapidly.
"It's scary, it's scary to have something new like this," UC Davis Medical Center's Chief of Pediatric and Infectious Diseases Dr. Dean Blumberg said.
Blumberg said the virus is isolated to California.
Since late 2012, five cases of this new mystery virus have been reported and 20 more cases are under investigation.
The virus sets in quickly and has devastating symptoms. Only a few days after presenting cold-like symptoms, patients began developing paralysis in their limbs.
"They're healthy, and then they're paralyzed, I mean what can be more scary than that?" Blumberg said.
Doctors at UC Davis Medical Center recently treated a child who was exhibiting the same symptoms, but now it appears the local case isn't the same thing. Blumberg said that child's case was reclassified because the symptoms developed at a much slower rate.
Researchers are trying to isolate what causes the virus so that they can work on a cure and create a vaccine to prevent it from developing. Until then, Blumberg said doctors have their hands tied.
"Other [treatments] have been tried, including plasmapheresis, antibody therapy, steroids, and none of those have shown to be useful," Blumberg explained.
Doctors have seen a common thread in some of the cases: patients have tested positive for Enterovirus 68, a strain of what Blumberg said is a common virus.
"The enteroviruses are common viruses," Blumberg said. "This one specific kind has been associated with paralysis in the past."