Six Minnesota Children Under 10 Have Contracted a Rare 'Polio-Like' Illness

12 October, 2018, 01:06 | Author: Jared Lewis
  • Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children

According to the state health officer, In Minnesota, 6 children have been diagnosed with a rare and a tough disease which is somehow like polio.

A puzzling condition that causes partial paralysis in children is back on the uptick in parts of the USA, with six cases under investigation in Minnesota and 14 reported in Colorado, health officials said Monday. Symptoms can include sudden arm and leg weakness, drooping eyelids, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes and slurred speech/difficulty swallowing.

Even with extensive lab testing, AFM is hard to diagnose, because it so similar to other conditions, including poliovirus, West Nile virus and adenoviruses, the CDC reports.

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The Center for Disease Control started tracking AFM in 2014 and in one study, it found about a quarter of patients had fully recovered and regained use of their muscles after one year.

"At this point there isn't evidence that would point to a single source of illness among these cases", Dr. Scott Lindquist, state infectious disease epidemiologist at the Department of Health, said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it has seen an increasing number of people across the US with the serious condition in the past four years.

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Shannon Barbare, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, told Fox News Tuesday there have been 14 confirmed cases of AFM in the state so far this year - though it's unclear if all of those cases were included in the CDC's latest report. In Minnesota alone, six children have been diagnosed since mid-September. "Cases have been reported from the Twin Cities, central Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota", the state health department said in a statement. However, the 2014 cases coincided with a national outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a virus called enterovirus D68.

The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure that can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak.

Diagnosis includes a brain and spine MRI and a spinal tap to test fluid. You can also protect yourself from mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile virus-another known cause of AFM. Minnesota saw three AFM cases that year. And, unlike the viral disease polio, AFM's more elusive cause means there is no vaccine. There are no specific treatments for AFM, so doctors may decide on certain treatments on a case-by-case basis.

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"We don't yet have any effective treatment for the virus or for the condition", Messacar said. Since then, however, the Minnesota Department of Health said it has seen an AFM case about once a year. "It's a very devastating situation".

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