Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, paralyzing disorder

Henrietta Brewer
October 11, 2018

She was later diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and has been undergoing treatment for a month at Chicago's Lurie Children's Hospital.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said AFM presents like polio or West Nile virus, estimates that fewer than one in a million people in the USA will get AFM each year.

The patients' symptoms have been most similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, and West Nile virus. But other viruses may also be to blame. However, during the two seasons when cases spiked-2014 and 2016-there were 120 and 149 cases, respectively. "Among the people confirmed with AFM, CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every patient". "That makes it seem like in 2018 it could come back".

Minnesota typically sees less than one case a year, the state Department of Health reported.


While aspects of the condition are puzzling, Messacar says it's no mystery disease.

In 2017, 33 cases were reported in 16 states.

The children affected suffer single or multi-limb weakness.

Minnesota usually only sees at most one case a year, so the outbreak of the polio-like illness is concerning. But in very rare cases, they can damage the nerves. At least nine have been linked to enterovirus A71. AFM is basically a viral infection and its exact cause of happening is still not known. AFM symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs, sometimes following a respiratory illness.


Minnesota health officials are left baffled, and urging doctors to keep their eyes out for a rare condition that can lead to paralysis.

All recent Minnesota cases have been in children under 10 years old and all were hospitalized. "Cases have been reported from the Twin Cities, central Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota", the state health department said in a statement.

A rare but potentially severe condition that causes weakness or even paralysis in the arms and legs of children is on the rise, the Centers for Disease and Control of United States says.

The Youngs say doctors ran several tests, but only got closer to a diagnosis after a second MRI. After treatment, the child was able to regain most of his muscle function, expect in his right arm, and is now in therapy, facing possible surgery. "There's children who are so sick they have trouble breathing and need breathing support", Hill added.


Kris Ehresmann with the state Health Department advises parents, "Any kind of acute muscle weakness in their kids, in arms and legs, that obviously doesn't have anything to do with spraining your ankle at soccer, that definitely they should seek medical attention". This virus is transmitted from person to person and it can have severe effects of the brain and spinal cord of the system. "There's not much that can be done and as a parent that's very hard to deal with".

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