Cases of Rare Illness Found in IL

Adjust Comment Print

A puzzling condition that causes partial paralysis in children is back on the uptick in parts of the US, with six cases under investigation in Minnesota and 14 reported in Colorado, health officials said Monday. This disease, AFM is not exactly like polio as it has no vaccination.

Nationwide, a total of 38 people in 16 states were found by the CDC to have confirmed cases of AFM between January and September this year.

A few states, including Texas, have reported a rare polio-like illness in children and the CDC is paying attention.

Enteroviruses most commonly cause mild illness.

The CDC has recorded 362 official cases of acute flaccid myelitis in the USA between August 2014 through August 2018. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs, sometimes following a respiratory illness, neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop, and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech. Some people report numbness or tingling in their arms or legs, while others have difficulty passing urine. This can require urgent ventilator support (breathing machine).

"While they have been looking for all different types of possible infectious reasons for this, they have not really been able to figure what's causing this, and there may be multiple causes". AFM can cause a range of types and severity of symptoms, but the commonality among them is a loss of strength or movement in one or more arms or legs. The condition affects the gray matter area of the spinal cord and causes weakness in the body's muscles and reflexes.

After several tests, doctors were only able to find a diagnosis after a second MRI, finding abnormality throughout his entire spinal cord.

AFM is a serious, but uncommon condition. AFM or neurologic conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders. One possible way it can develop is from viral infections.

Currently, there is no specific treatment for AFM, but doctors might recommend certain interventions, depending on the case.

The CDC does not yet know the long-term effects of AFM Some patients have recovered quickly, while others continue to have paralysis, it says. West Nile virus can also lead to the illness so taking steps to protect your family from mosquito bites, including using mosquito repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn when bites are more common, and removing standing or stagnant water near your home, can also help.

"As AFM affects mostly children and has no known cure, it is imperative that CDC conduct an expedited investigation and response to AFM infections", Ms. Klobuchar wrote in the letter.