Monday, 12 November, 2018

AFM: "Polio-like" Illness has Affected 6 Minnesota Children

Six children have been diagnosed with a rare but potentially severe condition that causes weakness or even paralysis in the arms and legs Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children
Alonzo Parks | 12 October, 2018, 01:09

The parents of a Batavia 2-year-old, Julia Payne, went public in hopes of raising awareness for acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, that causes inflammation in the spinal cord area that directly affects a person's muscles.

Three children at UPMC Children's Hospital are suspected of having AFM, while 38 others in 16 states have been diagnosed recently.

Six children in Minnesota have been diagnosed with a rare "polio-like" disease since September, baffling health officials.

Let's hope and pray doctors can find a cure, or perhaps a vaccine. At his worst, the Youngs say, Orville was unable to move the upper part of his right arm and had difficulty moving his legs and sitting up.

Kris Ehresmann with the state Health Department advises parents, "Any kind of acute muscle weakness in their kids, in arms and legs, that obviously doesn't have anything to do with spraining your ankle at soccer, that definitely they should seek medical attention".

Investigators are still collecting data on the two unconfirmed cases in Minnesota, which involved children under the age of 10 who displayed symptoms in the summer, Griffith said. For decades, Americans believed they had defeated this debilitating disease, but in 2014 a mysterious new disease called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) emerged.

There are several ways people can contract AFM, including exposure to toxins in the air, genetic factors or through viruses such as poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and Saint Louis encephalitis virus, according to the agency. "We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly, and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care", the CDC said.

Despite the increase, the condition is still considered very rare, occurring in fewer than one in a million people in the US each year.

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"There are cases of good recovery and good potential for good healing", said Sinner.

Colorado has had 14 AFM cases so far this year, state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy, MD, MPH, told NBC News.

If the condition worsens, symptoms can lead to paralysis or death.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, and the long-term outcomes for AFM patients is unknown.

The children are from King, Pierce, Snohomish and Lewis counties, the health department said. "She went in for an X-ray and she couldn't hold her head up by herself anymore, which was very unusual".

Health officials in Minnesota and at the CDC have recommended general preventive steps.

Symptoms may include muscle weakness in the arms, legs and neck. We have not confirmed the cause for the majority of these cases. These symptoms are similar to polio or the West Nile Virus.

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