Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Six cases of rare 'polio-like' illness diagnosed in children in Minnesota

Rare illness leaves 3-year-old boy paralyzed Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children
Anna Jefferson | 11 October, 2018, 04:12

It's very rare and typically affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord which could lead to paralysis in some cases.

State health officials have issued an alert to doctors after six Minnesota children were diagnosed with a rare, polio-like disorder that causes reduced mobility or paralysis in the arms and legs. "Cases are all under age 3 years with no underlying medical conditions", the state said in a health alert to doctors last June.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has since mid-September received a half-dozen reports of children with AFM, according to a statement.

"As AFM affects mostly children and has no known cure, it is imperative that CDC conduct an expedited investigation and response to AFM infections", Ms. Klobuchar wrote in the letter.

What is acute flaccid myelitis? Unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM. Symptoms include limb weakness, facial drooping and trouble swallowing or talking.

Parents usually notice the child's loss of the use of an arm or a leg. One in three patients at Cook Children's has seen an improvement by doing physical therapy.

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He had just recovered from a cold and fever in July. "The results come back that he had an abnormality through his entire spinal cord", said Elaine.

"By this point, his paralysis had already progressed to his trunk", she said.

According to the CDC, there was a notable increase in reported cases of AFM nationwide in 2014, which investigators have linked to an outbreak of a respiratory illness in children caused by a virus known as enterovirus D 68 (EVD68). According to the CDC, the largest number of cases, about 50, were reported in September 2014 before dropping to single digits in following months. Two cases required treatment in the intensive care unit for respiratory support, and all cases involved children younger than 10 years old from the Twin Cities area or central and northeastern Minnesota.

It added that it was consulting a neurologist in each case "to better understand this illness".

While fewer than 1 in a million people in the USA are diagnosed with AFM each year, the CDC is concerned about the recurrent outbreaks, especially given the mysterious nature of the illness. It can also be caused by poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses, mosquito-borne viruses (such as West Nile virus or Zika virus) and possibly by non-infectious conditions. Ehresmann said, "If you have a child that is having these kinds of symptoms, they should be seen, evaluated, immediately".

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