Polio- Like Disease Affecting Children In U.S


The CDC will determine if the samples are positive for AFM.The cases were reported from hospitals in Birmingham a Mobile. It recently received increased reports of suspected AFM cases with onset of symptoms in August and September.

Since the condition was first recognized by CDC in 2014, the agency has confirmed 386 cases nationally through October 16, mostly in children.

On Tuesday, the CDC released an official count of confirmed cases of the disease for 2018: 62 cases in 22 states.

We spoke with Dr. Leslie Benson, assistant director of the neuro-immunology program at Boston Children's Hospital, to learn more about the illness, which has been described as being similar to polio. Furthermore, although enteroviruses are capable of causing neurological illnesses such as meningitis, and acute flaccid myelitis, the investigators state that instances of this happening are few and far between.

It is not "totally clear" what causes AFM, Benson explained.

"I would not be anxious because this is a cold virus like many other viruses". "We don't know if it's a virus or an autoimmune process that's secondary to the virus". It causes sudden muscle weakness, but what drove many of these children's parents to action was a more extreme reaction: paralysis.

"It's not just one virus that can do this".

"This is actually a pretty dramatic disease", she said. "And we can't always detect them in each individual patient for a variety of reasons". The CDC knows of one child who died with the disorder in 2017. The average age of AFM patients is around 4 years old.

"I've seen [it in] anyone from one to two, up to teenagers", she said.

"The main part of treatment is supportive", Benson said. He suffered paralysis and had to be put on a ventilator. If they are having pain, we treat their pain.

A frustration has been trying to get insurance companies to cover the prolonged physical therapy required.

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Each year, doctors treat patients with enterovirus, which has many forms and often appears like a common cold.

Why is it being described as polio-like?

There is no evidence of infection with the mosquito-borne West Nile virus either, she says, although she still encourages parents to send their children out with bug repellent.

AFM has been called a polio-like illness due to its resemblance to the viral infection that impacted hundreds of thousands, particularly between the late 1940s and early 1950s. "And, really, polio is the classic thing that does that or did that". "But the appearance of the AFM symptoms is actually very rare".

Neither does geography seem to be a factor, as confirmed cases are spread across 22 of the 50 U.S. states.

It is a rare condition that is popping up around the country, including right here in the Midwest.

This "mysterious illness" has been on the rise since 2014.

What are the symptoms to watch for?

To do this, officials will be working with experts to review MRI scans taken from people over the last 10 years to identify how many cases of acute flaccid myelitis occurred previous to 2014.

AFM outbreaks coincide with cold and flu season, so it can easily go undetected at first, says Aaron Michael Milstone, an associate epidemiologist and an associate professor of pediatrics at Hopkins.

Patients may suddenly experience weakness in their arms and legs, drooping of the face and eyelids, and slurred speech, along with difficulty breathing, moving their eyes, or swallowing. It's hard to know, said Pastore y Piontti.

"So other than kind of general precautions, there's not a lot to do", she said.