Friday, 19 October, 2018

Kids In Minnesota With 'Polio-Like' Illness -Said Health Official

Stock image of a sick child Stock image of a sick child
Becky Salazar | 12 October, 2018, 01:08

The Minnesota state health department said all six cases occurred after mid-September, and all six kids have been hospitalized.

The disease can develop from a viral infection and impacts the nervous system by traveling through the spinal cord, but its cause is unknown.

"In very rare cases, it is possible that the process in the body that triggers AFM may also trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death", according to the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said AFM presents like polio or West Nile virus, estimates that fewer than one in a million people in the US will get AFM each year.

The Centers for Disease and Control said AFM has afflicted only 362 people nationwide in the past four years.

"It is very rare and it is certainly something we're taking very seriously", said Kris Ehresmann, who directs the Health Department's infectious disease section.

Separate from these five cases of illness, there has been one other case of AFM in Washington this year and there were three cases identified in 2017, according to the health department. Still, the condition is extremely rare, with the CDC estimating that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year. Most of the children have recovered, she added.

Sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes is common for people with AFM.

Karen Hacker says medical professionals are still trying to figure out what causes AFM. For decades, Americans believed they had defeated this debilitating disease, but in 2014 a mysterious new disease called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) emerged.

To prevent illness, the department of health recommends washing your hands frequently, staying up to date on vaccinations and avoiding mosquito bites.

Some affected by AFM may also be unable to pass urine, and have difficulty breathing, requiring urgent ventricular support.

The exact reasons that the condition appears are not known, but neurological conditions have a variety of triggers, such as viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said.

"If a parent notices a child with a weak or paralyzed limb, they should go to urgent care or the hospital immediately", said Julie Graham, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health. And there are other diseases that mimic the symptoms, such as West Nile virus and Guillain Barre syndrome. The average for the state is less than one case a year. Doctors stress that the early signs of AFM should be recognized and treatment should be started as soon as possible to prevent from severity of disease.

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