CDC expresses concern over mysterious surge in polio-like paralysis cases

Ebony Scott
October 19, 2018

"Many times it can start with what looks like a respiratory illness, a little bit of a fever", Tara Narula, a cardiologist and medical contributor to CBS News, told CBS This Morning.

The CDC's Messonnier said, "We know this can be frightening for parents".

The CDC has been tracking cases of AFM since a noted spike in 2014.

Right. But here's the political part - the part that raises question marks that simply hang in dead air: Guess who doesn't get vaccinated according to set CDC schedules?

The following year, there were 22 confirmed cases in 17 states, and 2016 saw 149 cases in 39 jurisdictions, including D.C. In 2017 there were 33 confirmed cases in 16 states. But Messonnier cautioned that it would be "premature" to be confident that this year will be the same as the earlier years.

"We see it peaking every two years", he said in an interview Wednesday.

Unfortunately, there is now no specific treatment plan for the disease, though medics may advise physical or occupational therapy on a case-by-case basis. AFM can be diagnosed by examining a person's nervous system, taking an MRI scan and testing cerebral spinal fluid.

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The CDC says the illness could be caused by viruses, environmental toxins, genetic disorders, or a condition in which the immune system attacks body tissues. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

Douglas County says it is still waiting on tests to confirm if the young child has AFM, and that could take up to three weeks.

Rarely, people with AFM can suffer respiratory failure and require ventilator support when their breathing muscles become too weak.

Parents should seek immediate medical care for kids exhibiting AFM symptoms, Messonnier said at the press conference, according to STAT. The agency had a teleconference with health providers slated for later today, and it provided a toolkit for diagnosing AFM, along with instructions for reporting suspected cases. In the CDC's health warning the organisation said at least 65 other patients are being assessed after they displayed symptoms of the malady.

Health officials urge parents to be vigilant, as there's a lot unknown about the syndrome and what causes it.

Yet, more than four years after health officials first recorded the most recent uptick in cases, much about the national outbreak remains a mystery. "Our medical team has been reviewing vaccine records when available during this year's investigation and do not see a correlation", said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund.

Undoubtedly - if vaccinations are indeed the cure for certain diseases - citizens in the United States who refuse the shots bring risk to their communities as a whole. CDC has tested many different specimens from patients with this condition for a wide variety of pathogens, or germs, that can cause AFM. "What we do is a medication called immunoglobulins, and that's to decrease the inflammation that happens in the nerves and in the spinal cord".

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