February 25, 2014 in Nation/World

In brief: Polio-like illness afflicting children in California

From Wire Reports
 

STANFORD, Calif. – More than a dozen children in California have developed an extremely rare, polio-like syndrome within the past year that within days paralyzed one or more of the children’s arms or legs, Stanford University researchers say.

The illness is still being investigated and appears to be very unusual, but Dr. Keith Van Haren at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University warned Monday that any child showing a sudden onset of weakness in their limbs or symptoms of paralysis should immediately be seen by a doctor.

“The disease resembles but is not the same as polio,” he said. “But this is serious. Most of the children we’ve seen so far have not recovered use of their arm or their leg.”

But doctors are not sure if it’s a virus or something else, he said. Van Haren said he has studied five cases from Monterey up through the San Francisco Bay Area, including two that were identified as the disease enterovirus-68, which is from the same family as the polio viruses. He said there have been about 20 cases statewide.

“We want to temper the concern, because at the moment, it does not appear to represent a major epidemic but only a very rare phenomenon,” he said, noting similar outbreaks in Asia and Australia.

Dr. Jane Seward of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the research is still underway in California, and there are a variety of infectious diseases that can cause childhood paralysis.

Supreme Court rejects two NRA appeals

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has turned down a pair of Second Amendment appeals lodged by the National Rifle Association, keeping in place laws that restrict those under 21 years old from buying or carrying a handgun.

Without comment, the justices dismissed claims by NRA attorneys who argued limits on those who are 18 to 20 infringe on the “fundamental right” to have firearms for self-defense.

In one case, the court refused to hear a challenge to a 1968 federal law that bars federally licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to those who are under 21. Sales of shotguns or rifles are permitted to those who are 18 or older, however.

This law was upheld by a federal judge in Texas and by the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans. Those judges said the age limits on handgun sales were justified because of the concern over violent crime.

In the second case, the justices refused to hear a challenge to a Texas law that forbids those who are 18 to 20 from carrying a concealed handgun in public. Since 1871, Texas law has prohibited individuals from carrying guns in public, the 5th Circuit said. However, the state legislature in 1995 said those who are 21 or older may obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon. But lawmakers said those who are under 21 may not obtain a license.


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