Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Medical | By Vernon Walton

Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Like Polio Found Among Kids in 22 States


So what exactly is AFM? Some with AFM will feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes.

Many other aspects of the illness remain unknown, including what factors puts a person at risk of becoming ill and the long-term consequences.

"The worst-case scenario would be that you'd be hooked up to a mechanical respirator or have to be on like, mechanical breathers, just because you're having respiratory failure", Nesemeier said.

Messonnier said the search for a cause is frustrating, and so far, no particular pathogen or immune response has been identified that would explain the big AFM peaks.

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a syndrome characterized by rapid onset of flaccid weakness in one or more limbs.


In addition to viruses, potential causes may include environmental toxins and genetic disorders, according to the CDC, and it "can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases".

"Getting vaccinated, taking precaution against mosquitoes, washing hands-all of these things are recommended by the CDC", Narula said. CDC experts say the overall rate of AFM is about one in a one million. However, none of the US patients tested positive for polio, and, according to Dr. Messonnier, none of this year's cases have been linked to West Nile virus.

And if you're traveling somewhere warm, wear that bug spray.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say it had referred a case from this summer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Federal health officials released the updated numbers on Tuesday, and said they still had no idea what was causing the spike in AFM cases or why kids were getting it in the first place.


The group wrote that the cell line they developed could be used to further explore EV-D68 genetic factors associated with neurologic effects, adding that replication in the cell line could be used to rapidly screen for neurotropic EV-D68 strains.

There is no treatment specifically for AFM, but affected children can undergo physical and occupational therapy to maximize their strength and adapt to their limitations.

The surge in cases has baffled health officials, who on Tuesday took the unusual step of announcing a change in the way the agency will count cases in the future.

The illness affects the patient's spinal cord.

With no answers as to the cause, it's important for parents and caregivers to know the symptoms so they can get their child immediate care. While there is no specific treatment for AFM, doctors may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.


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