Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Scientists study new strain of polio-related virus

From The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel health & science blog:

A global health campaign eradicated polio viruses in many parts of the world, but a enterovirus 71, a close relative has spread across Asia striking mostly children and some adults.

Now, researchers report on enterovirus 71,in two articles in The Lancet Infectious Diseases and The Lancet Neurology. Scientists from University of Liverpool in England and University of Malaysia Sarawak found that the virus is able to evolve quickly and is transmitted from one family member to another more easily than had been previously thought.

First detected in the 1960s in California, enterovirus 71 has caused major outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease. The virus can cause neurological disorders including meningitis, encephalitis and paralysis.

"The biggest challenge to doctors looking after children with this infection is to ascertain if a child could develop serious brain infection," said Mong How Ooi, who led the study from Malaysia, adding that the team has produced tests to help medics decide which patients are at greatest risk from brain infection.