MDH: 7th Minnesota case of AFM 'under review' by CDC

Maricruz Casares
Octubre 18, 2018

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating whether these children are infected with acute flaccid myelitis, a rare neurological illness. Health officials aren't sure, and they have given no concrete information as to why the illness seems to peak in the late summer and fall.

Here is what is known about the disease that has had 127 confirmed or suspected cases in 22 states as of Tuesday, including Pennsylvania. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness.

AFM was first detected in 2014, when 120 cases were confirmed. Another spike came in 2016.

There is also no official cause which means no definite form of treatment, something Roanoke mother Brittany Hoff knows too well after she said her son was diagnosed.

The cause of most of the AFM incidents is unknown, according to the CDC, as are the long-term effects.

No cases of polio have originated in the United States since 1979, while in Australia, the last case of the disease caused by a locally acquired virus was in 1972.

"This remains a rare syndrome, but the similarities to poliomyelitis, polio-like illness, are concerning and bear close monitoring", Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, told ABC News in an interview. Symptoms also can include facial droop and weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids or difficulty swallowing and slurred speech.

In some cases patients recover from the paralysis, but in others it continues. Enterovirus (EV) D68, a virus from the same family as polio, is the leading suspect, having been closely linked to the 2014 outbreak, Pardo-Villamizar said.

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All of the worries about AFM just give parents and grandparents one more thing to worry about.

"[There's] nothing that provides the unifying diagnosis that we'd expect to explain these peaks of disease", Messonnier said.

"As we work to better understand what is causing AFM, parents can help protect their children from serious diseases by following prevention steps like washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended immunizations and using insect repellent", Messonnier said.

"That's when children can really deteriorate and end up on a ventilator", Narula said.

By Tuesday, the total number of cases had reached 386, the CDC said.

The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said.

"We want to see that education", he said, "in order to have early recognition and detection".

Parents should seek immediate medical care for kids exhibiting AFM symptoms, Messonnier said at the press conference, according to STAT.

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