ND Department of Health investigating possible case of Acute flaccid myelitis

Frederick Owens
October 20, 2018

Federal health officials this week sounded an alarm over an increasing incidence of AFM. It causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak or even paralyzed.

"Many times it can start with what looks like a respiratory illness, a little bit of a fever", Tara Narula, a cardiologist and medical contributor to CBS News, told CBS This Morning.

"Be aware of the symptoms of any weakness in children", advised Dr. Vikram Prakash, a pediatric neurologist at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

Among the concerns the CDC has are that the agency does not know the cause of AFM, why there has been an increase in cases since 2014, or the long-term effects of the illness. There have now been a total of 386 confirmed cases since 2014.

USA health officials on Tuesday reported a jump in cases of AFM. But it can be a serious, debilitating disease.

There is no treatment specifically for AFM, but affected children can undergo physical and occupational therapy to maximize their strength and adapt to their limitations.

Some patients diagnosed with this condition have recovered quickly, but some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care, she said.

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.

CNN found that Colorado had 14 confirmed cases, more than any other state, followed by Texas with eight and Minnesota with six. Numbers dropped drastically in 2015 and 2017 - to 22 and 33, respectively - but were back up again in 2016 at 149. "I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness".

There are a variety of possible causes, including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, she said. One child who contracted AFM - which affects the nervous system via the spinal cord - died past year.

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Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.
Two cases of the disease - acute flaccid myelitis - have been confirmed in MA with another four cases under investigation. Messonnier said some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly while others continue to struggle with paralysis.

It shows distinct abnormalities of the spinal cord gray matter on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Messonnier said West Nile virus, which had been listed as a possible cause on CDC's website, is also not causing the illnesses.

Most kids who contract an enterovirus only suffer an upper-respiratory infection, Pardo-Villamizar and Dominguez said. "We don't know if it's a virus or an autoimmune process that's secondary to the virus". Ninety percent of AFM patients are 18 years old or younger.

Rathore, the Jacksonville specialist, said he was not shocked at seeing a case this year. "If you miss it, you're not missing a treatment".

This "mysterious illness" has been on the rise since 2014.

There have been 62 confirmed cases of AFM, according to the Center for Disease Control.

The first cases of AFM coincided with an unusually severe outbreak of a common virus that affects the lungs or gut.

Katy Payne, a mother from IL, who was interviewed, said about her daughter: "I took her to the ER because she turned blue".

Messonnier said the CDC has definitively ruled out polio - which causes a similar set of symptoms - as the cause.

As far as prevention, doctors recommend the polio vaccine but also say to practice good hygiene.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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