Polio-like illness causing paralysis in children reaches the Carolinas

Henrietta Brewer
October 18, 2018

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today that officials are investigating a spike in acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) cases, mostly in children, that looks similar to increases they saw in the late summer and fall of 2014 and 2016, with 127 cases under investigation in 22 states. Ninety percent of those affected have been children.

I really don't mean to scare you, but I was very frightened when I read about this disease, and I feel it's important to bring awareness to this scary condition that has only recently made itself known.

AFM affects a person's nervous system, according to the CDC website, mainly in the spinal cord, and can present polio-like symptoms, including weakness and pain in the arms and legs.

The disease has left some children with paralyzed limbs.

More than 120 confirmed or possible cases are under investigation nationwide, according to the CDC. That pattern appears to be repeating this year.

What's behind the rise in reports? "Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now". "For some of the previous cases we've identified one pathogen or another, but we have no unifying diagnosis".

Federal and state health officials are baffled by a mysterious and rare illness that seems to target children, causing paralysis. Of these, 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states.

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

Many local cases have been treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Additional symptoms include facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech. We did swimming to help him as well.

"That's when children can really deteriorate and end up on a ventilator", Narula explains. Still, if a child experiences sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in their arms or legs, parents should seek medical care right away, she said. The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure that can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak.

Doctors don't know much about AFM and the lack of answers is what is worrying Doug and Mary Finke. Neurologists may suggest treatments on a case-by-case basis. Doctors are also urging that vaccines be kept up to date.

What can you do to prevent AFM?

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

The CDC is actively investigating and monitoring disease activity and recommends taking standard prevention measures such as hand-washing, protecting oneself from mosquito bites and staying up-to-date on vaccinations.

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