Here's what you need to know about acute flaccid myelitis

19 October, 2018, 20:58 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates

The illness can lead to serious complications - including paralysis or respiratory failure - and requires immediate medical attention.

This year, more than half of all USA states have had confirmed or possible cases of acute flaccid myelitis, the polio-like illness that can cause paralysis and mostly affects children, according to an exclusive CNN analysis.

More than 90 percent of the cases are in children 18 years and younger.

Robin Roberts of Richmond, Virginia, spoke with NBC News about the death of her 5-year-old son, Carter, last month after he became paralyzed from his nose down because of the illness in 2016. The agency said it is very concerned about it. CDC experts say the overall rate of AFM is about one in a one million. Alarming symptoms consist of sudden, onset paralysis of a limb. Neurologists may suggest treatments on a case-by-case basis, and doctors can recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness.

This year's outbreak marks the third spikeof AFM in four years.

Geography also does not appear to be a factor, with the confirmed cases spread across 22 of the 50 USA states.

While there have been cases of AFM in other countries, the particular pattern of seasonal outbreaks has only been recorded in the United States, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on Tuesday.

Verma, of Children's Healthcare, said unfortunately there is no cure for acute flaccid myelitis, but he said there are ways to manage the symptoms, and he added that rehabilitation can improve function and quality of life. 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.

Right now, it's unclear what has caused the AFM cases in Illinois, Colorado, and Pittsburgh.

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The CDC said the West Nile virus, adenoviruses, poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses are also possible reasons why the illness has begun spreading. Investigators have also ruled out a variety of germs.

But according to Dr. Keith Van Haren, "There's a likelihood it may be associated with other viruses". "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

However, the department noted: "Every year many more people get the flu and get seriously ill".

Kerkering said doctors aren't sure what causes the spinal infection.

"We are just learning about this illness ourselves".

It's not clear who is at risk.

Gregory said, "It is a little bit concerning any time you're talking about illnesses that primarily seem to affect children". AFM appears to be seasonal, occurring mostly in the late summer and fall, but appears in greater numbers every other year.

"The fact that there is not a documented cause at this moment is an alarming piece of it", said Berbari.

This week, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed its third case and said its reviewing two more similar cases. In some cases, patients recover quickly.



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