CDC counts 134 cases of polio-like condition

Maricruz Casares
Diciembre 5, 2018

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced there have been 286 total cases of acute flaccid myelitis (also known as AFM) across the United States past year.

The most recent totals found that AFM had spread to 33 states and 134 cases were confirmed, though the agency continues to monitor the disease closely and release new totals each week. That method seems to be replicating in 2018, as states have announced a small quantity of PUIs over the past couple of weeks. The children with definitive AFM also had many white blood cells in their spinal cords, and less protein in their cerebral spinal fluid than the children with alternative diagnoses.

While the preponderance of two states having remarkably instances is certainly something to consider, it is not yet clear whether those states (or any other, for that matter) are at a higher risk or if, perhaps, those states are simply better at identifying, and then reporting the disease. The latest confirmed cases were in September and October.

The younger our children are, and the more helpless and reliant on us they are, the more we worry about their health and safety.

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The CDC says that AFM is a rare but serious condition. Polio has been almost eradicated from the world by vaccination, and its occurrence is very low.

Akin to polio virus, viruses can attack the nerves directly. Or they can cause an auto-immune reaction that damage nerves, similar to what happens in Guillain-Barre syndrome. More than 400 confirmed cases, a lot of them in children, have been reported in the past four years, and one child with AFM died last year. Enteroviruses are common in the fall and winter and only rarely cause any symptoms worse than what would otherwise be assumed to be the common cold. A total of 299 possible cases had been referred to the CDC this year, as of November 30.

The CDC said it has seen an increase of AFM cases every other year since 2014.

Maggie Fox is a senior writer for NBC News and TODAY, covering health policy, science, medical treatments and disease.

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