CHEO confirms cases of rare polio-like disease

Ebony Scott
October 25, 2018

Another kind of virus is suspected, but it's been found in only some of the cases.

While it's a worrying condition, it affects less than one in a million people in the United States each year. "Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now".

By the time any of the prominent symptoms occur-droopy eyelid, weak arm or trouble standing up-the virus is already gone. It has earned the title of "mysterious" because CDC officials don't know what causes the condition or why they began seeing more cases four years ago. "There isn't a consistent cause, and we don't understand the whole physiology behind it at this point".

The Ohio Department of Health said Friday it has notified health care providers to be alert for and to report suspected cases of the neurological condition called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. Brain Institute and at Children's Health told Dallas News.

During an information briefing, the Director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier said, despite extensive laboratory testing, they don't know what causes the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients. "What the physician will do is rule out other causes rule out other things that might be causing it".

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Cases of a rare polio-like illness causing weakness and paralysis in USA children are also on the rise in Canada, one doctor is warning.

AFM cases on the rise in the U.S. Story continues below video. By then, the body may have cleared the infection itself and tests may not turn up any specific viral cause.

It will take an MRI to confirm if the patients have AFM. In the past, an oral polio vaccine could cause a polio-like syndrome in some people, but that vaccine has not been available in the USA since 2000 and the last known case in the US was in an infant with other health problems who was vaccinated in India, brought to the USA and died in 2013, the CDC says.

While a lot is still unknown about the condition, CDC experts are looking to past outbreak patterns to try and predict when this one will hit its peak. That virus has been identified as one cause of AFM.

Just about any virus can cause neuroinvasive disease, but they rarely ever do. And the CDC recommends staying up to date on vaccines, avoiding mosquito bites, and washing your hands as ways to possibly avoid contracting AFM. Damage to the nervous system can be long-lasting or permanent.

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