A medical mystery is causing paralysis in children in California. A potential virus has struck as many as 25 children, leaving doctors puzzled and searching for answers.
The illness has been compared to polio, which has been eradicated in the U.S. for the past 30 years. The illness comes on quickly (over the course of just a few hours), there is no treatment, and the paralysis is likely permanent.
Right now, doctors suspect the culprit is a virus which first appeared in California more than 50 years ago called enterovirus-68. It’s related to viruses which causes viral meningitis, encephalitis, and hand, foot and mouth disease. There have been about 50 cases of enterovirus-68 reported in the U.S. since 2000.
While the unknown disease is causing alarm among parents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there’s little threat the rare phenomenon will spread. Doctors say they’re simply seeking help in finding the cause of these seemingly connected cases.
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Perhaps you think of immunizations as something reserved for grade school children. But did you know adults need vaccines, too?
Many adults have no idea the vaccines recommended for them, and they’re missing out on important protections from serious and sometimes deadly diseases. In fact, according to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS):
- Only 1 out of 5 adults ages 19-64 with certain high-risk medical conditions received a pneumococcal vaccination.
- Only 1 out of 5 adults 60 years and older, received a shingles vaccination.
- Only 1 out of 6 adults ages 19-64, received a Tdap vaccine in the last 7 years to provide protection from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough)
Vaccines are important for adults for many reasons. Even if you received vaccines as a child, they can wear off. Sometimes the bacteria you were vaccinated against changes, therefore your resistance weakens. As you get older, you may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases due to your age, job, hobbies, travel, or chronic health conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults get the following vaccines:
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