At first it seemed like a common cold, but it turned into a case of paralysis for 13-year-old Dan Dugan of Seabrook, New Hampshire. Doctors suspect a respiratory virus that's been striking children across the country this fall may be to blame.
Now, CBS Boston's Ken McLeod reports that the boy is making slow but steady progress as he relearns how to walk at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where he's been since early October.
It all started with a cough, headache and fever. Then one morning, Dugan woke up with his legs paralyzed. "I could feel them but they just wouldn't move," he told CBS Boston.
His father rushed him to the hospital, where doctors suspected enterovirus 68, although they never confirmed it.
Usually, enterovirus 68 amounts to a little more than cold-like symptoms in children, with a subset of them suffering from severe respiratory distress. A small number, like Dugan, end up with damage to the spinal cord.
On "CBS This Morning" earlier this fall, CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus explained that this virus is a relative of polio. "Polio is an enterovirus, so we know enteroviruses can affect neurological symptoms. In fact there was an outbreak earlier this year in the state of California where several kids got paralysis and they also had this particular virus."
Dugan's prospects for recovery are unknown, but he's working hard to get his strength and mobility back. "Failure is not an option," Dugan's stepmother told CBS Boston. He's looking forward to reuniting with his dogs and going fishing with his father. If all goes well, the eight grader hopes to head home in two weeks, and return to school next month.
Several groups in his hometown are raising money to help cover the boy's medical bills. His family said the support from townspeople has been "awesome."