Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass. Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates
Anna Jefferson | 17 October, 2018, 22:52

Most of the cases have involved children.

The number is almost double the amount observed in 2017, when 33 AFM cases were found in the US. In 2015 and 2017, the counts of reported illnesses were far lower.

There is no specific treatment for the disorder, and long-term outcomes are unknown. It affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

She said the CDC and research partners are casting a wide net trying to figure out what is causing the rise in cases, suggesting scientists have been looking at a variety of viruses and even environmental toxins in their search.

The Douglas County Health Department's Phil Rooney said, "This is not a diagnosis like flu or other diseases where you can do blood draw fluids". Maryland's first case was reported September 21. She said that most AFM cases occur in the late summer and fall.

Officials began tracking the disease in 2014 when they received reports of 120 cases nationwide. Then in 2016, there were 149 confirmed cases. But the data reported Tuesday represents "a substantially larger number than in previous months this year", Messonnier said.

So far, AFM has affected fewer than one in a million people in the United States each year. "As a parent myself, I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", she said. None have tested positive for poliovirus.

Messonnier said the CDC has definitively ruled out polio - which causes a similar set of symptoms - as the cause. Those officials are probing another 65 illnesses in those states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed cases in 22 states overall.

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From August 2014 through September 2018, the CDC received information on a total of 386 confirmed cases of AFM across the country. Parents should seek medical care right away if their child develops sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs.

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Officials said they will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases.

The CDC is investigating the outbreak. Doctors at Children's have not seen an AFM patient needing a ventilator this year, but have treated such cases in the past, Benson said.

The agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing this condition or the reasons they may be at higher risk.

"The most common etiology is probably a viral infection that starts off the process, and there's probably several different viruses that can cause acute flaccid myelitis", said Dr. Samuel Dominguez, medical director of the clinical microbiology laboratory at Children's Hospital Colorado.

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said.

It shows distinct abnormalities of the spinal cord gray matter on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). She said the average age of AFM patients is 4. "So we're very lucky that he had (physical therapy) through early intervention".

"Families really sticking with it are seeing slow but steady recovery", he said.

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education.

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