Maryland Health Officials Confirm 5 Possible Cases Of Polio-Like Illness

Maricruz Casares
Octubre 17, 2018

Despite extensive laboratory and other testing, CDC has not been able to find the cause for the majority of the cases. "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

Last year, one child died of the disease. So far, a common cause linking these illnesses has not been found.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, but treatments that have been tried include immunoglobulin replacement therapy, corticosteroids, plasma exchange and antiviral therapy, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Acute flaccid myelitis, also called AFM, is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system, with a particular focus on the gray matter of the spinal cord.

The agency says there are several possible causes, including "viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders".

The Minnesota Department of Health says a seventh child has been struck by a rare, paralyzing illness that has been reported across the country. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

CNN learned that both North Carolina and SC are among 30 states with confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis.

When AFM strikes, patients experience sudden weakness, as well as loss of muscle tone and reflexes in the arms and legs.

Messonnier said some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly while others continue to struggle with paralysis.

There were 120 cases in 2014 when the disease was first detected in the United States.

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The CDC received information on 33 confirmed cases of AFM across 16 states in 2017, 149 cases in 39 states.

It's too early to know whether the total for 2018 will surpass those previous years.

"This is actually a pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier told reporters on Tuesday.

The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said.

Parents have reported that the limbs of affected children appear lifeless. "We certainly don't want to alarm people because it's very rare, but at the same time, I believe it's something that's best to have checked out". "We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms or legs". Those officials are probing another 65 illnesses in those states.

To give parents, healthcare workers, and public health officials a look at what to expect, she said the CDC will report suspected cases this year, as well as confirmed ones. "Our medical team has been reviewing vaccine records when available during this year's investigation and do not see a correlation", said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund.

She said that CDC has tested every stool specimen from AFM patients.

But the agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk nor why they may be at higher risk.

The illness is called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM.

"Nobody really knows treatment protocols, they don't know prognosis, and they can't really give parents an answer as to where this is coming from", she said.

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