So, would anybody like to discuss this in a general way?
Anybody care to speculate on whether this new illness will spread, or whether it will just fizzle out?
And why is there so much difference in the reported number of cases from news-article to news-article?
I think the difference is 18 cases of illness, 5 cases of paralysis, and then some imprecision over at USA Today.
I hope this illness won't spread, and it seems pretty slow at spreading. Twenty cases in 18 months over a 100-mile radius suggests either that most cases are very mild and not reported, or that the virus is not highly transmissable person to person. I would hope that someone is doing the epidemiological footwork on this with the affected families, to figure out how they might have been exposed, and then to track down those possibilities.
It sounded to me like they know what it is, HEV-68. Like polio, most people just get a little cold. What I'm curious about is what turns it into paralysis, encephalitis, etc?
Take a look at this press release from the American Academy of Neurology: https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/PressRelease/1246
They aren't making the link between HEV-68 and this paralysis yet. :"Two children tested positive for enterovirus-68, a rare virus previously associated with polio-like symptoms. No cause was identified in the remaining three children." --AAN
It also says that a research paper was written on 5 cases specifically, while there are between 20 and 25 total suspected cases being investigated.
Someone in the comments on the Stanford blog brought up the thought that if it is viral/bacterial, it might be drought-related. In the past, droughts have caused epidemics of anthrax and some other illnesses.
Here's a CDC page on drought-related illness: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/drought/infectious.htm
Just something to ponder.