Polio-like illness causing paralysis in children reaches the Carolinas

Polio-like illness causing paralysis in children reaches the Carolinas

Polio-like illness causing paralysis in children reaches the Carolinas

Cases have been confirmed in 22 states.

AFM appears to target children at around age 4. Limb paralysis caused by the illness can worsen quickly, so it's also important that individuals experiencing these symptoms receive prompt medical attention.

"Despite a lot of investigation by CDC and our partners, AFM remains a mystery disease", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases for the CDC. Despite extensive laboratory and other testing, CDC has been unable to find the cause for the majority of the cases.

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AFM is a condition that affects the nervous system and causes muscle weakness, according to the CDC. According to the CDC, AFM is a serious condition commonly seen in children that causes weakness in the arms or legs. Another spike came in 2016. But Messonnier cautioned that it would be "premature" to be confident that this year will be the same as the earlier years. But Messonnier said that, in general, parents can help protect their children from diseases by washing their hands, making sure their children are up to date with vaccinations and applying insect repellent to protect against mosquito bites, which can spread viruses.

There is no specific treatment for the disorder, and long-term outcomes are unknown.

The odds of getting the polio-like disease is less than one in a million; however, two cases in the Bay State have been confirmed and four others are under investigation, the Department of Public Health announced. Maryland's first case was reported September 21. In extreme cases, paralysis and death can occur. The agency said it is very concerned about it. "Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now". CDC has tested every stool specimen from every AFM patient. Viruses that can cause the disease include poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses and West Nile virus. The disease is being called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and although researchers suspect that it's caused by a virus, no virus has yet been discovered that's associated with the condition. The Florida Department of Health said one case has been reported this year.

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The CDC is investigating the outbreak.

The agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing this condition or the reasons they may be at higher risk. But so far, no pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.

Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare". In 2016, there were 149 cases. Working with local and state health departments and hospitals, the CDC has been able to confirm a number of these cases faster, she said. States are not required to provide this information to CDC, but they have been voluntarily reporting their data.

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