Children in US hit with mysterious, paralysing illness acute flaccid myelitis

Ebony Scott
October 17, 2018

This year's numbers are similar to 2016 and 2014. Still, if a child experiences sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in their arms or legs, parents should seek medical care right away, she said. "Most AFM cases occur in the late summer and fall, ." which she referred to as "seasonal clustering".

The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said.

Some possible causes being investigated by the CDC include enteroviruses, which affect the digestive system, and rhinoviruses - the infectious agents associated with the common cold.

Since the condition was first recognized by CDC in 2014, the agency has confirmed 362 cases.

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said.

"We have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these AFM cases", Messonnier admitted.

The cause is a mystery but the CDC and other officials have ruled out polio and West Nile virus.

"Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases", Messonnier said.

Besides viruses, officials are also considering environmental toxins as a possible cause, but so far, they have no evidence that a particular toxin is behind the cases. Cases have been reported from the Twin Cities, central Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota. Officials said it's too early to know whether the total cases for 2018 will surpass those previous years.

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It's called acute-flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

She said that CDC has tested every stool specimen from AFM patients.

The CDC is investigating the cases and monitoring the disease, and encourages people to prevent the disease by staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and protecting against mosquito bites.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, but neurologists who specialize in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses may recommend certain interventions, such as physical or occupational therapy, on a case-by-case basis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed frustration and concern Tuesday about a puzzling surge in cases of polio-like paralysis, mostly in children, being reported across the country this year.

On Monday, CNN reached out to health departments in every state and received responses from 48 states plus the District of Columbia.

Working with local and state health departments and hospitals, the CDC has been able to confirm a number of these cases faster, she said.

States are not required to provide this information to the CDC but have been voluntarily reporting their data.

Other reports by GizPress

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