Rare polio-like disease is spreading — CDC

Acute Flaccid Myelitis

The latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 28 more suspected cases have been reported by state health departments since the previous update about a week ago, bringing the total number of possible cases to 155.

During an information briefing, the Director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier said, despite extensive laboratory testing, they don't know what causes the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients. The cause of the illness is not known; it causes sudden onset of muscle weakness and even paralysis.

It is also unclear who could be at higher risk of developing AFM, Messonnier said.

Why is it so hard to figure out? That is not a large group for study.

"But that said, because we are seeing quite a few more cases than we would normally see, we certainly want our colleagues.to be aware of what to look for", he said of other practitioners and hospitals.

But it is not polio, the CDC said. "We think with these viruses, it is a fraction of that".

Poliovirus and West Nile virus may sometimes lead to AFM.

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AFM tends to affect children and young adults-among the confirmed cases, the average age of those afflicted is 4, and 90% of those with the condition are age 18 or younger. But others were not. Another cause could be a type of enterovirus called EV D68, Ellerin suggests.

By the time any of the prominent symptoms occur-droopy eyelid, weak arm or trouble standing up-the virus is already gone.

Most patients will need physical therapy.

The agency tracked 120 cases of AFM in 2014 (the year the outbreaks started). "What the physician will do is rule out other causes rule out other things that might be causing it". The CDC has confirmed a total of 386 cases of AFM have occurred across the United States from August 2014 through September 2018, mostly among children. By then, the body may have cleared the infection itself and tests may not turn up any specific viral cause. "CDC has been actively investigating these AFM cases, and we continue to receive information about suspected AFM cases".

It will take an MRI to confirm if the patients have AFM. "That's something that we're still really learning about", Jones said. That virus has been identified as one cause of AFM. 127 cases have been investigated overall across the country, and 3 of those cases are in Alabama. Zika is one of the most notorious recent examples. Damage to the nervous system can be long-lasting or permanent.

To protect against contracting AFM, the CDC recommends that people stay up to date on their vaccines, wash their hands, and protect against mosquito bites.

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