Thursday, 15 November, 2018

CDC Confirms Rare Polio-Like Virus Acute Flaccid Myelitis in 22 States

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Becky Salazar | 18 October, 2018, 04:55

US health officials on Tuesday reported a jump in cases of a rare paralyzing illness in children, and said it seems to be following an every-other-year pattern.

"We don't know why in the majority of cases, we don't even find a cause for the illness, we can't determine what virus may have caused it, and so that's been challenging nationwide", said Susann Ahrabi-Fard, communicable disease epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. CDC officials have not confirmed that enterovirus D68 causes AFM.

The condition causes muscle weakness, which can result in paralysis.

So far across the county, 62 cases of the rare polio-like neurological condition have been reported. All told 386 cases of AFM have been confirmed since 2014, more than 90 percent in children younger than 18.

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said. There was one death of a child who had AFM, in 2017, said Messonnier.

In addition to viruses, potential causes may include environmental toxins and genetic disorders, according to the CDC, and it "can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases".

"I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", she said.

A rare, polio-like disease causing paralysis is affecting children across the country.

The number of confirmed cases has been on the rise since late 2014, when there were 120 confirmed cases from August to December in 34 states.

Generally, most children with AFM see subtle improvements over time, but "most have long-term weakness", she said.

The CDC has been tracking cases of AFM since a noted spike in 2014. "Children can also have trouble swallowing, trouble with their speech, facial droop, trouble with their eye muscles".

Extremely. According to the CDC, there were 38 confirmed cases in 16 states this year through September 30.

Other possible cases are still under investigation.

The virus is diagnosed by examining a patient's nervous system and in combination with looking at photos of the patient's spinal cord, the CDC says.

Despite its similarity to polio, none of the AFM patients has tested positive for the poliovirus, Messonnier said.

Vaccines and hand-washing help protect against the spread of viral illnesses, while insect repellent helps ward off the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile. The disorder has been diagnosed in children who have received some of their recommended vaccinations and in unvaccinated children, she said.

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