State health officials investigating 5th suspected case of polio-like disease

Henrietta Brewer
October 25, 2018

It causes sudden weakness in the arms or legs, facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing.

So far in 2018, there are 62 confirmed cases of AFM in 22 states. There are 155 cases under investigation nationwide.

The agency said that enterovirus and West Nile virus, as well as rhinovirus and unspecified environmental toxins, were confirmed as the root causes of some AFM cases, according to health officials. However, the number of patients now under investigation for the rare condition has risen in the last week, up from 127. There is no specific treatment for the disorder, whose confirmed cases have seen a significant increase this year. In the past, an oral polio vaccine could cause a polio-like syndrome in some people, but that vaccine has not been available in the USA since 2000 and the last known case in the US was in an infant with other health problems who was vaccinated in India, brought to the USA and died in 2013, the CDC says.

ipolonina/Getty Images The average age of those affected by AFM in the four years old.

Doctors and researchers don't know how or why AFM shows up in children or why cases occur in the late summer and fall. But in a majority of cases, the cause is unknown. "I know many parents want to know what the signs and symptoms are that they should be looking for in their child".

"This remains a rare syndrome, but the similarities to poliomyelitis, polio-like illness, are concerning and bear close monitoring", says Dr Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, according to Yahoo! "We continue to investigate to better understand the clinical picture of AFM cases, risk factors and possible causes of the increase in cases". In 2016, there were 149 cases.

"When you think about how many kids will get a viral infection at this time of year, you're literally talking about huge numbers".

"Back at its peak for every 100 to 1,000 people we saw infected with polio, we saw somebody paralyzed", Greenberg told NBC News. "I'm basing that on what we've seen in other years".

Venkateswaran said parents should seek medical help if their child is experiencing a sudden weakness in any part of the body, a sudden loss of bowl or bladder control, or neck pain.

Although the symptoms of AFM have been described as "polio-like", polio has been ruled out as a cause in the US cases, CDC said in a press conference.

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