Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

Frederick Owens
October 18, 2018

To date, 62 of those cases, from 22 states, have been confirmed; investigations of the others are ongoing.

Officials at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City said two cases of AFM have been confirmed at the hospital.

The CDC referred calls to individual state health departments.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, but neurologists who specialize in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses may recommend certain interventions, such as physical or occupational therapy, on a case-by-case basis. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness.

The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said.

The Department of Public Health has confirmed the second MA case this year of a rare but potentially devastating illness that strikes mostly children and causes muscle weakness or paralysis. The CDC knows of one child who died with the disorder in 2017.

The mysterious increase in cases of AFM, as it's called, was first spotted in the late summer and autumn of 2014. No geographic clustering has been found and there is no other "unifying factor to explain the peaks", she added. Another kind of virus was found in only some of the cases.

The agency says there are several possible causes, including "viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders". CDC has tested many different specimens from patients with this condition for a wide range of pathogens, or germs, that can cause AFM. Some patients have tested positive for enterovirus or rhinovirus.

More broadly, she noted, "there is a lot we don't know about AFM".

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"Any weakness, including trouble swallowing, weakness of an extremity, especially in a child who has recently gone through signs of an infection, those would be the main red flags", said Sarah Hopkins.

Messonnier said some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly while others continue to struggle with paralysis.

On Monday, CNN reached out to health departments in every state and received responses from 48 states plus the District of Columbia.

Two cases of the disease - acute flaccid myelitis - have been confirmed in MA with another four cases under investigation. Another 149 were reported in 2016. "There's going to be a delay, a lag in the timing of some of these reports".

States are not required to provide this information to the CDC but have been voluntarily reporting their data.

This year's numbers are similar to 2016 and 2014. And in very rare cases, AFM can trigger fatal neurological complications, according to the CDC.

The CDC said it doesn't know how long symptoms of the disease will last for patients. "We think the majority of cases are coming to our attention". Still, if a child experiences sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in their arms or legs, parents should seek medical care right away, she said.

"We understand that people, particularly parents, are concerned about AFM", she said.

AFM remains extremely rare, even with the recent increase.

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