Six Cases of Rare, Polio-like Illness in MN Children

Ebony Scott
October 11, 2018

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is investigating an outbreak of a rare but potentially deadly disease known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) after six children in the state were diagnosed with the condition.

Acute flaccid myelitis affects the nervous system and can lead to the weakening of muscles, health official said. AFM or neurologic conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.

The Washington State Department of Health said Wednesday it was investigating the cases of possible acute flaccid myelitis. "It's incredibly heartbreaking to see this".

A 2016 report found there were 120 cases recorded across 34 states from August through December 2014. These cases coincided with a severe respiratory illness caused by enterovirus D68. Symptoms typically begin with a fever or cough, followed by sudden weakness in limbs, drooping of the eyes, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing. Between 2014 and 2018, the CDC received reports of more than 360 cases.

Quinton has lost a lot of the strength in his left arm, along with some weakness in his legs and neck. There are no known treatments, and 38 cases have been confirmed in the USA this year.

All of the cases involve infants or children under the age of six. The Minnesota cases have all involved kids 10 years old or younger, health officials said. Cases have been reported from the Twin Cities, central and northeastern Minnesota.

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The patients' symptoms have been most similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, and West Nile virus.

The CDC does not yet know the long-term effects of AFM Some patients have recovered quickly, while others continue to have paralysis, it says.

Messacar said it's important is for parents to seek immediate medical help if their child shows symptoms of weakness in the muscles of the face or throat. Unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM.

"As AFM affects mostly children and has no known cure, it is imperative that CDC conduct an expedited investigation and response to AFM infections", Ms. Klobuchar wrote in the letter.

After several tests, doctors were only able to find a diagnosis after a second MRI, finding abnormality throughout his entire spinal cord.

The family has felt helpless these past few weeks, dealing with a disease doctors know very little about, but thanks to other families, who are going through the same condition they are, they're now feeling better about their situation.

Other reports by GizPress

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