Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Mysterious paralyzing illness found among kids in 22 states

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass. Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates
Ben Pena | 18 October, 2018, 00:23

One child has died of the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

The CDC first took notice of AFM in 2014 and before last week had only tracked around 362 cases of it in total.

More than 120 confirmed or possible cases are under investigation nationwide, according to the CDC. Other symptoms include facial drooping, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech. Scientists are investigating a number of causes, including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said on its website.

Because the disorder is rare - afflicting less than one in a million people - doctors weren't considering it initially, Hill said. The CDC has confirmed 62 cases in 22 states, including Texas, and the rest are being investigated.

Officials said some people diagnosed with the illness recover quickly while others need ongoing care.

The increase in cases has been happening since 2014, with the number of cases spiking in August and September, she said in a news briefing with reporters.

In 2014, a large AFM epidemic coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), but in-depth testing of patient samples hasn't consistently found a common cause.

Dr. Leslie Benson, assistant director of Children's pediatric neuroimmunology program, said AFM patients show a wide spectrum of symptoms.

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Other countries have reported AFM cases, but not the same seasonal pattern the United States has experienced. The CDC doesn't know what caused the spikes. More than 90 percent of the cases reported so far are people under 18 years of age.

She added that confirmation of each case requires a review of MRI images and symptoms, "so there is going to be a bit of a lag as we confirm those things". Several cases have been linked to enteroviruses or other germs, but officials have not been able to find a cause for the majority of the cases.

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 agency said it is very concerned about it.

Parents have reported that the limbs of affected children appear lifeless.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for AFM, though the CDC says neurologists may suggest options on a case-by-case basis.

AFM is still extremely rare.

The following year, there were 22 confirmed cases in 17 states, and 2016 saw 149 cases in 39 jurisdictions, including D.C. In 2017 there were 33 confirmed cases in 16 states.

"What parents have to know is if your child suddenly has a weak arm or leg, is not speaking properly, has a stiff neck or a wobbly neck - call the doctor immediately", pediatrician Dr. Laura Popper said.

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    For example, the CDC doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or why some are at higher risk, she said. Neurological conditions like it have a variety of causes, such as viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders.
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