Rare, polio-like illness detected in Pittsburgh area

12 October, 2018, 03:23 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Quinton Hill and his parents

It's so rare that less than one in a million will get AFM, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

He is advising parents to take their children to the emergency room if they notice any focal weakness.

"We have 41 cases of children who have had some sort of illness of enterovirus A71, which is causing a wide spectrum of neurological illness", Herlihy said.

The cases involve infants and children under the age of six who all reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM.

The disease, which attacks the nervous system, is not contagious from person to person but may be spread by a virus or the likes of mosquito bites .

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that two Chicago-area children are being treated at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago for the illness - including 2-year-old Julia Payne, who has been fighting the illness for almost a month. An additional possible case of AFM was reported out of Skagit County on Thursday.

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AFM is a weakening of the nerves that causes partial paralysis in children.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, an epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, told Fox News most of 2018's confirmed Colorado cases happened in mid- to late August and September. Symptoms include weakness in the arms or legs, drooping facial muscles, and difficulty moving the eyes. "We're working closely with medical providers and public health agencies". There isn't a vaccine that could prevent AFM and there isn't a vaccine that causes the condition, medical experts said. "We'll continue to investigate and share information when we have it".

The CDC says it got information on 362 cases of the illness in the USA from August 2014 through August 2018. It's also known as 'AFM'.

For the first nine months of this year, 38 people in 16 states have been confirmed to have AFM. Since that time, more than 360 new cases of AFM were reported.

The health department says there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, but washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, cleaning surfaces with disinfectants, and staying up-to-date on immunizations is recommended. Three cases were reported in 2017, and one other case was reported in Washington since the beginning of 2018.

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