Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

CDC Warns Of Polio-Like Mystery Illness That's Paralyzing Kids

CDC Warns Of Polio-Like Mystery Illness That's Paralyzing Kids

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there have been 62 cases of the rare polio-like condition acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM, this year.

"[There's] nothing that provides the unifying diagnosis that we'd expect to explain these peaks of disease", Messonnier said.

It's possible that some milder cases haven't been reported by doctors to their state health department or the CDC, but Messonnier believes that number would be small. Outbreaks are most common from August to October, and over 90 percent of the cases have involved children under 18 years old, with the average age of those inflicted standing at just 4 years old.

Cases nationwide may have gone up since 2014, but Wisconsin didn't see its first case until 2016, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Officials call the condition acute flaccid myelitis or afm. CDC experts say the overall rate of AFM is about one in a one million.

Many other aspects of the illness remain unknown, including what factors puts a person at risk of becoming ill and the long-term consequences. Health officials aren't sure, and they have given no concrete information as to why the illness seems to peak in the late summer and fall. The CDC still has not pin-pointed exactly what's causing this disorder, but they suspect a virus that circulates this time of the year.

"Despite extensive laboratory testing, we have not determined what pathogen or immune response caused the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients", she said. You may ask, what good am I doing by telling you about this illness if, as of yet, we do not know how it is contracted, or if it even has a cure.

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There is no specific treatment for AFM.

Cases have been reported in 22 states, including some in our area.

Cases have been on the rise since 2014. "As we work to better understand what is causing AFM, parents can help protect their children from serious diseases by following prevention steps like washing our hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites". "Kids may have a cold-like symptom, cough, congestion and fever, and what is alarming and frightening is they suddenly develop weakness, and typically it's in an arm or leg, and you can look at the list of symptoms, and it comes out of the blue".

Health officials do not know what's causing the increasing number of cases of AFM.

Media reports in recent weeks have suggested that a "polio-like virus" might be triggering the condition, elevating fears that it might be polio itself.

Some patients recover quickly, while others experience paralysis and require ongoing care. "So we're very lucky that he had (physical therapy) through early intervention".

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