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West Nile research published by JAMA, reported in USA Today

Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
Dr. Art Leis is senior scientist at the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery at Methodist Rehabilitation Center.

JACKSON, Miss.—The Journal of the American Medical Association is the latest prestigious medical journal to publish the findings of researchers at Methodist Rehabilitation Center who first linked West Nile virus with paralysis.

An article co-authored by Dr. Art Leis, senior scientist at the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery at Methodist Rehab, appears in the latest issue of JAMA published today.

Dr. Leis and other researchers warn that in addition to the more common symptoms of West Nile infection, both patients and physicians should be aware of the signs of limb weakness. Their study confirms that West Nile virus can attack the spinal cord and cause paralysis, fatigue and other symptoms that persist for months after infection.

JAMA is the latest in a growing number of national and international medical journals to report what Methodist researchers fist discovered last September—that muscle weakness associated with West Nile virus infection is caused by a loss of motor cells in the spinal cord and that the virus is targeting the gray matter of the spinal cord in a manner similar to polio.

Since Methodist Rehab researchers announced their discovery last year, their findings have been published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control, and the international medical journal, The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Leis spoke to USA Today reporter Anita Manning for a West Nile story that appears in today’s paper.

Earlier this week Methodist Rehabilitation Center was named one of America’s best hospitals by U.S. News and World Report.

For more information:
West Nile virus can damage the spinal cord | USA Today