On Feb. 23, word of a mysterious illness similar to polio that was affecting children in California spread nationally. Now, the parents of Sofia Jarvis, the 4-year-old who was first diagnosed with the illness, are speaking out about her condition in hopes of helping others recognize the signs.
A polio-like illness has affected an estimated twenty-five children, leaving each of them with respiratory issues and at least one paralyzed limb. Jessica Tomei and Jeff Jarvis, parents of the first case — Sofia Jarvis, have joined forces with pediatric neurologist Dr. Keith Van Haren to help spread awareness and, hopefully, find a cause and cure.
Sofia Jarvis — Paralyzed By Polio-Like Illness
When Sofia Jarvis, 4, spent a few days in the hospital suffering from respiratory issues, doctors diagnosed her with asthma and sent her home to the care of her parents. Less than twenty-four hours later her mom, Jessica Tomei, noticed when Sofia reached for a toy inside her toybox with her left arm before giving up mid-way. To this day, Sofia has not had use of her left arm since.
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During further examination, an x-ray showed that Sofia had a lesion on her spine. Despite intense physical and occupational therapy, no improvement has been shown in Sofia’s arm. Doctors have also reported that the muscle in Sofia’s arm has shrunk due to the fact that it is not being used.
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“We know we are lucky that the virus did not affect other areas of her spine as that may have caused paralysis of her legs or worse, all four limbs,” Jessica said during a press conference outside of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Ca. on Monday, Feb. 23.
California Doctors Spread ‘Concern’ In Medical Community
Dr. Keith Van Haren, a pediatric neurologist at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, has prepared a presentation that consists of Sofia’s case and at least four others to present to the American Academy of Neurology at their annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pa. in April 2014. Since the twenty-five cases are currently in California only, spreading word of the illness could prompt other cases to pop up throughout the nation.
“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,” Dr. Van Haren explained during the press conference outside of the hospital.
The doctor also explained that at least two cases of the illness have been identified as the disease enterovirus-68, which is in the same family of viruses as polio.
— Lauren Cox