Mystery Illness Causing Paralysis in Children Baffles Doctors

18 October, 2018, 04:55 | Author: Jared Lewis

Federal health officials have issued an unusual warning about a growing number of cases of a polio-like illness called acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM.

And for now, it's hard to say if 2018 will equal or surpass spikes seen in 2014 and 2016, Messonnier said, adding that state and federal health officials haven't finished the whole diagnostic algorithm for numerous cases reported over the past several weeks.

The suspected case in Douglas County is still under investigation and confirmation of the diagnosis could take up the three weeks.

CDC Since August 2014, the CDC has seen 386 confirmed cases of AFM in the U.S.

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So far across the county, 62 cases of the rare polio-like neurological condition have been reported.

According to CNN, the average age of all patients in confirmed patients is 4 and more than 90 percent of the cases occur in children under the age of 18. Nesemeier says many do recover, while some can be left with a disability.

While AFM is incredibly rare, the current rate is less than one case for every 1 million Americans, Messonnier urged parents and health care providers to be on the lookout for symptoms. The CDC doesn't know what caused the spikes. Limb paralysis caused by the illness can worsen quickly, so it's also important that individuals experiencing these symptoms receive prompt medical attention.

Federal health officials are anxious about an increase in a mysterious and rare condition that mostly affects children and can paralyze arms and legs, with 127 confirmed or suspected cases reported as of Tuesday.

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Since officials have been unable so far to determine how the disease spreads, they are starting to count suspected cases as well as confirmed to better anticipate increases over the coming months.

The CDC is investigating 127 reported cases, including the ones that have been confirmed.

Other states with cases included Colorado, Illinois and Washington. The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure that can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak. Additional symptoms include facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech.

Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, mostly strikes children and affects the nervous system.

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First recognized in 2014, AFM remains mysterious. We actually don't know what is causing this increase. And though enteroviruses have been detected in some paralysis cases, it hasn't been found in others, CDC officials say. "We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develops sudden weakness of the arms and legs", she said. 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.

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