62 cases of AFM confirmed across 22 states: CDC

62 cases of AFM confirmed across 22 states: CDC

62 cases of AFM confirmed across 22 states: CDC

Today (Oct. 16), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it had received reports of 127 cases of people with the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), in 2018.

There are now five possible cases of a polio-like illness in Maryland, health officials confirm. One child died from AFM in 2017.

Officials said they are looking at an additional 65 possible cases of AFM.

Standardized surveillance was established in 2015 to monitor this illness and attempt to estimate the baseline incidence.

The increase in cases has been happening since 2014, usually in August and September, but only in 2014 and 2016, Messonnier said in a news briefing with reporters. Most of the cases are in children under the age of 19, with kids under the age of 4 appearing to make up the biggest portion of cases.

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And despite the resemblance to polio, officials have ruled out poliovirus as a cause of the illnesses.

The CDC also does not yet know who may be at a higher risk for developing AFM or the long-term consequences of the condition.

That's when we spoke with the families of 4-year-old Camdyn Carr, who's now fighting the disease, and 7-year-old Sebastian Bottomley, who previously fought AFM.

The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said. Working with local and state health departments and hospitals, the CDC has been able to confirm a number of these cases faster, she said. The CDC doesn't know what caused the spikes.

Messonnier stressed that while she understands how frightening this situation is for parents, they should remember that the infections are, in fact, rare. "Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now". Several cases have been linked to enteroviruses or other germs, but officials have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these cases.

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While AFM is not unique to the US, Messonnier said, "no one else has seen seasonal clustering every other year".

"This is actually a pretty dramatic disease", she said.

But the agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk nor why they may be at higher risk. CDC has tested every stool specimen from every AFM patient. But so far, no pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid. Of these, 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states.

Parents can best protect their children from serious diseases by taking prevention steps, like washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines, and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites, she said.

The CDC referred calls to individual state health departments. States are not required to provide this information to CDC, but they have been voluntarily reporting their data.

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