Cases of rare, polio-like illness confirmed in Ohio, Pennsylvania

Alicia Farmer
October 19, 2018

And though enteroviruses have been detected in some paralysis cases, it hasn't been found in others, CDC officials say. Symptoms include sudden weakness in arm and leg muscles, neck weakness or stiffness, drooping of the eyelids or face, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

Officials said three cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported in North Carolina this year - two probable and one confirmed. The CDC has confirmed 62 cases in 22 states, including Texas, and the rest are being investigated.

AFM is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system, causing muscles to weaken.

The disease is rarely deadly, but recovery varies by child.

Most of these patients are children. "We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develops sudden weakness of the arms and legs", she said.

Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of infectious disease and immunology at Wolfson, said in a statement that the child, who was not identified, was admitted to the hospital with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

So far, viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders are all possible causes for the spike. West Nile virus is also not a culprit, she said.

Dr. Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, a neurologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, said that the mystery lies in whether the damage seen in AFM is caused by an external agent or the body's own defenses.

The agency also said it will post case count updates on its website every week now, a change from the monthly updates it had been giving. "You can't tie it up in a neat bow".

The cases in 2014 and 2016 were partly attributed to particular strains of respiratory germs called enteroviruses, which spread the most in the summer and fall. "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

According to CNN, the average age of all patients in confirmed patients is 4 and more than 90 percent of the cases occur in children under the age of 18.

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So far there are five suspected cases of Acute Flaccid Myeltitis, or AFM, this year in Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The CDC is not sure why there was a rise in cases of AFM in 2014. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

Other states with cases included Colorado, Illinois and Washington. Ehresmann said Minnesota public health officials have linked their outbreak a virus, but haven't determined the exact name. The CDC actually doesn't know what causes the disease or much about it at all.

"The cases are from all over the state", Ehresmann said. But, occasionally, a child will progress to having AFM. A spokeswoman for hospital said they have notified the health department and are working with the CDC to learn more about the illness.

As of yet, there is no known effective treatment for the condition, but the vast majority of patients do recover with treatment.

Many other aspects of the illness remain unknown, including what factors puts a person at risk of becoming ill and the long-term consequences.

Some patients recover quickly, while others experience paralysis and require ongoing care.

The news of a poliolike disease spreading around a state or across the country is unsettling news to many parents.

But both Glatter and Ehresmann were quick to reiterate that AFM is very rare.

"As a parent myself I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", Messonnier said. Her mother said her symptoms kept getting worse and, by the weekend, she started losing function in her arms and legs.

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