Sixth Washington child hospitalized with mysterious illness, health officials say

Frederick Owens
October 12, 2018

Acute flaccid myelitis is so rare that less than one in a million will get it, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cases involve infants and children under the age of six who all reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM.

The condition targets the spinal cord area that directly affects a person's muscles. Eight cases have been reported statewide.

The children were hospitalized after experiencing "sudden onset of paralysis of one or more limbs". "We're working closely with medical providers and public health agencies".

Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth has diagnosed three patients with AFM in 2018. "We'll continue to investigate and share information when we have it".

"Most of the cases [of AFM] that CDC has learned about have been in children", the CDC writes on its website.

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"What we don't know is why these common cold symptoms, why in some individuals does it turn into AFM that's where the mystery lies", said Dr. Sinner.

The CDC's website explains, "A doctor can tell the difference between AFM and other diseases with a careful examination of the nervous system, looking at the location of the weakness, muscle tone and reflexes". A 2-year-old girl was recently diagnosed in the Chicago area, and UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh confirmed that three children are now being treated for AFM at their facility.

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. Many people compare the disease to polio because it can cause problems that are very similar to the poliovirus.

However, 11 of the Colorado cases of AFM have tested positive for EV A71, a rare type of enterovirus not usually seen in the USA but instead in Asia and other parts of the world, according to Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the Colorado state epidemiologist. Three cases were reported in 2017, and one other case was reported in Washington since the beginning of 2018.

Herlihy the best prevention is frequent hand-washing and keeping kids home when they are sick.

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