MDH: 7th Minnesota case of AFM 'under review' by CDC

18 October, 2018, 00:27 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • An electron micrograph of a thin section of EV-D68 a rare enterovirus.									Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Yiting Zhang  CDC

Acute flacid myelitis or AFM is not new, but cases have been on the rise since 2014. All told 386 cases of AFM have been confirmed since 2014, more than 90 percent in children younger than 18.

Acute flaccid myelitis, also called AFM, is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system and causes the muscles and reflexes to suddenly become weak, she said Tuesday.

This condition is not new, but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new ...

Most cases of weakness and paralysis have been in children.

The surge in cases is just as baffling as the syndrome itself: a wide variety of potential causes have been proposed, ranging from the polio virus - which the USA eradicated through vaccines decades ago - to influenza, environmental toxins and West Nile Virus.

The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said. Of those, 30 states said they had cases that were confirmed, suspected or being investigated - including 15 states that said they had confirmed cases in 2018. Some possible suspects, such as polio and West Nile virus, have been ruled out.

Some patients diagnosed with this condition have recovered quickly but others continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care, she said.

Messonnier urged parents to seek care right away if children experience AFM symptoms.

Of the cases announced Tuesday, 62 have been confirmed in 22 states, according to Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the CDC.

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Messonnier said the search for a cause is frustrating, and so far, no particular pathogen or immune response has been identified that would explain the big AFM peaks.

As many as 127 confirmed or suspected cases of the disease have been identified this year across a region that includes 22 different states. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare".

Fauci emphasized that, while parents might understandably be anxious, AFM is "very rare".

Mary said, "We have a 9-year-old grandson that we worry about and other grandchildren and we just don't know enough about it". Another kind of virus was found in only some of the cases.

There is no treatment specifically for AFM, but affected children can undergo physical and occupational therapy to maximize their strength and adapt to their limitations.

"It attacked [my child's] body and her spinal cord a certain way that seems to be happening to other kids too", said Josh Payne, the parent of a child battling AFM.

The CDC encourages people to prevent the disease by staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and protecting against mosquito bites. Fifteen states said they'd confirmed cases this year.

It's important for parents to know the symptoms so they can get their child immediate medical care and help doctors get a handle on the disease.

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