Mysterious Polio-like Disorder Striking Children Around US Growing

18 October, 2018, 04:54 | Author: Joshua Bennett
  • Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

As of Tuesday, 62 cases of what doctors are calling acute flaccid myelitis have been confirmed in 22 states.

The agency has not yet confirmed whether the New Hampshire patient, a juvenile from Rockingham County, contracted AFM or if it is another illness, said Jake Leon, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. "Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now".

AFM was first detected in 2014, when 120 cases were confirmed. Outbreaks are most common from August to October, and over 90 percent of the cases have involved children under 18 years old, with the average age of those inflicted standing at just 4 years old.

As of yet, there is no known effective treatment for the condition, but the vast majority of patients do recover with treatment. It affects fewer than one in a million people each year across the country, the CDC estimates.

"It can be caused by viruses, it can be caused by environmental factors or possibly a genetic disorder", Nesemeier said.

"Despite extensive laboratory testing, we have not determined what pathogen or immune response caused the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients", she said.

It's a rare disease that can cause muscle weakness, partial paralysis, and general polio-like symptoms in children. So far, 2016 was the worst year, with 149 confirmed cases.


Officials with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital told WVLT News that Hill was receiving treatment in an area of the hospital where patients diagnosed with AFM would be cared for.

In total, CNN found 47 confirmed cases and 49 more that were suspected or being investigated, for a total of 96.

While officials aren't clear of the exact cause, they say it can occur as a result of a variety of viral illnesses including the polio virus, enteroviruses, West Nile virus and adenoviruses. Parents should seek medical care right away if their child develops sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs. None of the USA patients tested positive for polio, a crippling and often deadly disease which was eliminated in this country thanks to the polio vaccine. We actually don't know what is causing this increase.

Another potential cause of AFM is a type of enterovirus called EV D68, Todd said.

The Douglas County Health Department's Phil Rooney said, "This is not a diagnosis like flu or other diseases where you can do blood draw fluids".

Parents can best protect their children from serious diseases by taking prevention steps, such as washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

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