DOH and CDC Send Health Advisory on Acute Neurologic Illness

On Sept. 26, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory after nine pediatric patients were hospitalized in Colorado with acute neurologic illness of undetermined etiology. These cases were identified between Aug. 9 and Sept. 17. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) forwarded CDC’s advisory on Sept. 29 to Pennsylvania physicians subscribed to receive health alerts through the PA Health Alert Network (PA-HAN).

This illness is characterized by focal limb weakness and abnormalities of the spinal cord gray matter on an MRI.

According to the advisory, the CDC recommends that:

  • Patients who are 21 years of age of younger who have acute onset of focal limb weakness which occurred on or after Aug. 1 AND an MRI showing spinal cord lesion largely restricted to gray matter be reported to state and local health departments.
  • Providers treating these patients consult with their local and state health departments for laboratory testing of stool, respiratory, and cerebrospinal fluid specimens for enteroviruses, West Nile virus, and other know infectious etiologies.

All suspected cases of acute neurologic illness with focal limb weakness of unknown etiology in children in Pennsylvania should be reported to DOH at 1-877-PA-HEALTH or to the local health department where the patient resides.