State health officials investigating 5th suspected case of polio-like disease

Adjust Comment Print

Over the past four years, the Centers for Disease Control have seen a rise in Acute Flaccid Myelitis, also known as AFM.

Acute flaccid paralysis, also known as acute flaccid myelitis, is experiencing a small surge in the USA, where more than 60 cases have been confirmed in recent weeks.

State health officials who are investigating the cases have not revealed details regarding the locations, ages, gender or any other identifying details about those affected. All of the cases, the two confirmed and five suspected, are in children. A person's chance of getting AFM is approximately 1 in a million.

"CDC is now providing the number of patients still under investigation so people can better anticipate increases in confirmed cases over the coming months", the agency said in a statement.

From August 2014 through September 2018, the CDC has received information on a total of 386 confirmed cases of AFM across the United States. The CDC does not fully understand long-term consequences or why some patients recover quickly while others continue to experience paralysis and weakness.

So far in 2018, there have been 155 reports of the condition, which causes sudden weakness in the arms and legs and can lead to paralysis. Some possible suspects, such as polio and West Nile virus, have been ruled out.

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

Doctors say the disease starts off as a common cold but the virus attacks the spinal cord. "I know many parents want to know what the signs and symptoms are that they should be looking for in their child".

Viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders may play a role, CDC noted.

Most of the AFM cases that the CDC has studied have no indication of any particular infection.

It will take an MRI to confirm if the patients have AFM.

While a lot is still unknown about the condition, CDC experts are looking to past outbreak patterns to try and predict when this one will hit its peak. "That's something that we're still really learning about", Jones said.

The CDC has been clear on one thing: none of the patients has tested positive for polio.

Just about any virus can cause neuroinvasive disease, but they rarely ever do. Damage to the nervous system can be long-lasting or permanent. Parents can also help protect their children by encouraging hand washing, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.