Polio-like illness among kids baffling doctors, scaring parents

Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates

The surge has baffled health officials, who on Tuesday announced a change in the way the agency is counting cases.

"When these illnesses occur, it often means that the spread of the virus, the transmission of the virus, in the community is quite widespread and there probably are many persons, many children, affected just like when the flu comes to the community", Modlin said. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed an additional 56 cases across 22 states on Wednesday, and are investigating a further 65. And in very rare cases, AFM can trigger fatal neurological complications.

The fact that doctors don't know what causes AFM and have no vaccine is disturbing, but the rarity should be reassurance to families. "In the last few years, about 150 cases a year and we might have a number like that this year".

The number of confirmed cases has been on the rise since late 2014, when there were 120 confirmed cases from August to December in 34 states. Though AFM has not claimed any lives this year, there was one death in 2017.

It's too early to know whether the total for 2018 will surpass those previous years. Additionally, it doesn't know what long-term effects of the illness could look like. The CDC says the main culprit can be a virus, environmental toxins, or genetic disorders.

CDC There have been 386 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis in the US since 2014. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

Arizona health officials have confirmed two cases of a rare illness that has paralyzed children in more than 20 states.

It is a rare condition that is popping up around the country, including right here in the Midwest.

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The CDC does not name states with confirmed or suspected cases.

In some cases patients recover from the paralysis, but in others it continues. Neither boy tested positive for enterovirus D68-or A71, a similar virus also linked to AFM-but the tests are not definitive, he says.

Dr. Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, a neurologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, said that the mystery lies in whether the damage seen in AFM is caused by an external agent or the body's own defenses.

Three new children with suspected acute flaccid myelitis, or "modern polio", are being treated at UPMC Children's Hospital, the Allegheny County Health Department said Thursday.

Medical experts have unable to find a cause nor have they been able to determine who is at risk. No pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.

"Getting vaccinated, taking precaution against mosquitoes, washing hands-all of these things are recommended by the CDC", said CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula.

Kerkering said AFM is most common in children.

But, if their child is diagnosed, parents should prepare for extensive physical therapy - therapy that isn't always covered by insurance, he said.

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