Washington investigating children partially paralyzed with polio-like virus

Washington investigating children partially paralyzed with polio-like virus

Washington investigating children partially paralyzed with polio-like virus

AFM is a serious but rare condition that affects a portion of the spinal cord, causing muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak, according to the CDC.

The Minnesota state health department said all six cases occurred after mid-September, and all six kids have been hospitalized. Nationwide, the CDC has confirmed 362 AFM cases between August 2014 and August 2018. "Cases are all under age 3 years with no underlying medical conditions", the state said in a health alert to doctors last June. She also requested the agency answer seven questions about its response efforts by October 16 and conduct a member-level briefing for senators seeking more information on the issue.

The mysterious illness that's paralyzing children is spreading across the United States, with cases popping up in both Chicago and Pittsburgh after initial reports from Minnesota.

AFM is diagnosed by examining a patient's nervous system in combination with reviewing pictures of the spinal cord. In 2017 the CDC recorded only 33 cases, and in 2015 it confirmed only 22 cases. The cause of most of the AFM cases is unknown. And at the end of 2104, total numbers of people affected from AFM were 120 in 34 states.

Acute flaccid myelitis appears to be caused most often by viruses, especially one called EV-D68. In recent weeks seven children have been diagnosed with AFM in Minnesota and Iowa, including two children who required treatment in the intensive care unit for respiratory support. Doctors have seen a slight increase in cases since August 2014, with many of them found in children. Patients may also experience neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids, facial droop, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing.

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The children have acute flaccid myelitis or AFM, a weakening of the nerves that resembles polio. Some people may be unable to urinate, and, in severe cases, a person can suffer respiratory failure and need to be put on a ventilator.

The health department says there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, but washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, cleaning surfaces with disinfectants, and staying up-to-date on immunizations is recommended.

Health investigators are trying to figure out how some Minnesota children contracted a rare illness with polio-like symptoms. 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.

Griffith said the cases usually come to light when parents notice acute muscle weakness or paralysis in their child and bring them to a health provider.

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