Sofia Jarvis managed to dance around with her father, holding on to his hand with her right arm. She looks normal and healthy until you notice that her left arm dangles limply to her side.
While Sofia is still in good spirits, laughing with her parents and playing, her family brought her to a news conference at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University for a discussion of an enigmatic polio-like illness that has hit her and other children very hard.
Sofia is one of five children in California, so far, who are showing signs of this debilitating illness. These cases are to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology at their next annual meeting.
“Most of the kids are still paralyzed. There can be some mild improvement but the level of paralysis remains severe,” Dr. Emmanuelle Waubant, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco explained.
Waubant said that they have absolutely no idea what is causing this. “We’re not exactly clear what is the agent,” she explained. “We suspect it is a virus.”
Sofia’s doctors originally thought what she had was pneumonia. They gave her an antibiotic, but as they left the doctor’s office and she reached out for a toy, “mid-grasp her left hand dropped.”
The pediatrician then prescribed steroids, but this also resulted in no improvement.
“You can imagine. We had two boys that are very healthy and Sofia was healthy until that point,” Tomei explained. “We did not realize what we were in store for. We did not realize her arm would be permanently paralyzed.”
In spite of it all, however, Tomei says “I know that we’re so lucky that she’s here. We’re so lucky. She’s going to do amazing things.”
Experts are currently looking into as many as 25 additional cases of this same mystery illness. All of the children in question have been vaccinated against polio and tests have confirmed that their illness was not in fact polio, even though it seems very much like the disease that was eradicated in the U.S. more than 30 years ago.
(Article by Jackson Marciana; image via Shutterstock)