Rare, polio-like disease hits two kids in NYC

This map shows confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis across the U.S. as of Nov. 23 2018. Two cases have been confirmed in NYC. Map courtesy of CDC

Such illnesses can result from a variety of causes, including viral infections, environmental toxins, genetic disorders, and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurologic disorder caused by an abnormal immune response that attacks the body's nerves.

There was a relatively large outbreak of AFM in the U.S.in late 2014.

AFM is a condition that generally causes sudden muscle weakness. More than 100 people contracted the disease in 2014, 2016 and 2018, while fewer than 50 cases were confirmed in 2015 and 2017.

According to the CDC, there is no specific treatment for AFM, but a neurologist may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.

In an open letter to the House and Senate committee leadership now putting together an appropriation bill, Gillibrand said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 286 suspected or confirmed cases of AFM.

The agency also, for the first time, identified the states in which AFM cases have been confirmed.

According to a CDC update Monday, 116 cases have been confirmed so far in 31 states in 2018.

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On Nov. 13, the CDC announced the formation of a new task force to investigate AFM.

"I want to reaffirm to parents, patients, and our nation CDC's commitment to this serious medical condition", said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. "There is still a lot to learn about AFM and more study is needed".

"The good news is that the CDC is setting up a task force to track AFM", Gillibrand said.

The children involved in this outbreak have tested negative for polio and West Nile. "And in children, which is where we're mostly see this condition, it's caused symptoms such as weakness of the arms, weakness of the legs, droopy eyelids, problems swallowing and things of that nature".

Though it is similar to polio, the CDC said it is not caused by poliovirus. Ninety percent of cases have been in children under the age of 18, with the majority of patients between the ages of two and eight.

The number of Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) appear to spike in August and September every two years, and researchers aren't sure why.

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