Health Care

CDC: Mysterious paralyzing illness reported in 22 states

CDC: Mysterious paralyzing illness reported in 22 states

Today (Oct. 16), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it had received reports of 127 cases of people with the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), in 2018.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) told WCCO the seventh case of accute flaccid myelitis (AFM) has been clinically diagnosed in Minnesota.

"We know this can be frightening for parents", said Dr. NancyMessonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Parents should seek medical care right away if their child develops sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs.

Health officials do not know what's causing the increasing number of cases of AFM.

So far this year, there have been 62 cases of AFM across the nation. Another spike came in 2016.

- The number of cases of a rare paralyzing illness in children in the United States has jumped, according to federal officials. "Right now we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases", she said.

"It attacked [my child's] body and her spinal cord a certain way that seems to be happening to other kids too", said Josh Payne, the parent of a child battling AFM.

The long-term effects are not known, and outcomes have been different for patients, with some recovering quickly and others having lasting paralysis and requiring ongoing care.

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More than 120 confirmed or possible cases are under investigation nationwide, according to the CDC.

While AFM is incredibly rare, the current rate is less than one case for every 1 million Americans, Messonnier urged parents and health care providers to be on the lookout for symptoms.

In some individuals, health officials have determined that the condition was from infection with a type of virus that causes severe respiratory illness.

Although symptoms resemble polio, no evidence of poliovirus has been found in specimens from any case diagnosed so far, Messonnier said.

Nancy Messonnier, a doctor at the CDC, called it a "mystery illness". "For some of the previous cases we've identified one pathogen or another, but we have no unifying diagnosis".

AFM appears to target children at around age 4.

The CDC encourages people to prevent the disease by staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and protecting against mosquito bites.

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. It's a rare disease, but the CDC thought that they might glean more about the nature of the outbreak, as well as clues about how to contain it, by releasing a report to the public. Fifteen states said they'd confirmed cases this year. States are not required to provide this information to CDC, but they have been voluntarily reporting their data.


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