CDC: Rare polio-like disease is spreading

Henrietta Brewer
October 28, 2018

The CDC is tracking 155 cases in 22 states this year, most of which are still unconfirmed.

Oakland County Health Division is monitoring the nationwide occurrence of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which is a rare, serious condition that is not fully understood. IL has ten clinically diagnosed cases of the virus that has now been confirmed in 22 states across the country so far in 2018. In Georgia so far this year, there have been an estimated three confirmed, or probable, cases of AFM with two possible other cases under investigation, according to the state's Department of Public Health.

State and federal health officials are warning the public about the increase in the number of cases of AFM, but there is no known treatment for it.


AFM impacts "the area of spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak", the CDC says.

"Yes it is rare, but it is happening more than the numbers say", Young said. While potential causes may include certain viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC says, "AFM can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases". Midwest states make up 40 percent of all confirmed cases including IL with 10 confirmed cases. Still, CDC estimates that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year.

"I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", said Messonnier.


Despite the similarity in symptoms, all AFM cases have tested negative for poliovirus. "You can see enterovirus particles in the motor neurons."It's not proof, Tyler said".

"It's likely to be caused by viruses sometimes it's kind of a subsequent thing after a virus". While most viral infections are mild and self-limited, some people are more seriously affected, either because of environmental factors, genetic susceptibility, or just plain bad luck.

Rohde said that doctors have been treating the signs or symptoms which appear to start out like a respiratory illness, with cough, runny nose and fever.


"Make sure you keep your children up to date on their vaccines", he said. She says parents should seek medical care for children if they show symptoms.

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