ibusinesslines.com November 14, 2018

Cases of rare, polio-like illness confirmed in Ohio, Pennsylvania

19 October 2018, 04:35 | Melissa Porter

CDC Investigates Cases Of Rare Neurological 'Mystery Illness' In Kids

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

Federal and state health officials are baffled by a mysterious and rare illness that seems to target children, causing paralysis.

The CDC says there are preventative measures people can take to reduce the risk of infections that could lead to AFM.

By Tuesday, the total number of cases had reached 386, the CDC said.

While AFM is not unique to the US, Messonnier said, "no one else has seen seasonal clustering every other year".

AFM can cause weakness and pain in the arms and legs. Additional symptoms include facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech.

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A mystery illness that attacks the nervous system, paralyzing some children, has many parents concerned across the country.

There are now 62 confirmed reports of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, an illness similar to polio, across 22 states in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She said the average age of AFM patients is 4.

Nancy Messonnier from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the organisation had not been able identify the cause of the illness in a majority of the cases.

The disease is being called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and although researchers suspect that it's caused by a virus, no virus has yet been discovered that's associated with the condition. Nor can they explain why only a handful of infected children developed AFM. Seven children have been affected in that state.

Some patients diagnosed with AFM were found to have enterovirus D68, a cousin of poliovirus, in their systems.

"I think I would tell parents to be vigilant in looking out for, you know, arms or legs not working, that floppy head, those respiratory symptoms that don't seem consistent with other basic illnesses", she said.

Messonnier also said none of this year's cases have been linked to West Nile virus. Experts don't know the long-term effects of the disease. Lydia was diagnosed with AFM and endured months of occupational and physical therapy, followed by psychotherapy to resolve her nightmares and lingering anxieties. Though AFM has not claimed any lives this year, there was one death in 2017.

Unfortunately, there's no specific treatment for AFM.

"This remains a rare syndrome, but the similarities to poliomyelitis, polio-like illness, are concerning and bear close monitoring", Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, told ABC News in an interview.

She encouraged parents to wash their children's hands, use insect repellents and update vaccinations. "We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develops sudden weakness of the arms and legs", she said.

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