Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
Medicine | By Debra Reynolds

A Virus Similar To Polio Was Reported In Children From Maryland

A Virus Similar To Polio Was Reported In Children From Maryland

Of the confirmed cases, 90 percent are children.

Rarely, people with AFM can suffer respiratory failure and require ventilator support when their breathing muscles become too weak.

"Even if you diagnose it, you're managing symptoms", Rathore said. The CDC is now investigating a potential case of AFM in New Hampshire, an official said Wednesday.

Parents of a sick child should be on the lookout for any signs of weakness in the arms or legs, Pardo-Villamizar said.

Kristen Ehresmann, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control at the Minnesota Department of Health, told Healthline, "it's very concerning".

The two cases this year were in the southern and southeastern parts of the state.

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In 2018, the number of cases almost doubled over past year, with 62 children in 22 states confirmed by the CDC. This year's AFM outbreak is gaining attention because there are 127 suspected cases so far. The average age is 4 years old.

Doctors diagnose AFM based on a combination of the patient's symptoms and an MRI scan. However, the illness has been on the rise in the USA since 2014.

Since then, Patterson, chairman of the division of Child and Adolescent Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, has seen several children diagnosed with what's come to be called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, a very rare disease that causes nerve-damaging inflammation in the gray matter of the spinal cord.

While AFM has made it onto quite a few headlines this year, the number of confirmed cases is on a similar level to those in 2014 and 2016. At this point, there appears to be no geographic clusters in the illness.

The CDC's Messonnier said, "We know this can be frightening for parents".

"We know this can be frightening for parents", Messonnier said in a news briefing.

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There is no known specific treatment for the disease, known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). Some patients recover quickly and some need ongoing therapy for paralysis. Though AFM has not claimed any lives this year, there was one death in 2017.

AFM is a condition that affects the nervous system and causes muscle weakness, according to the CDC.

While there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding AFM, McGuffin says the best way to protect your child is pretty basic: wash your hands and stay up to date on vaccines.

In addition to viruses, potential causes may include environmental toxins and genetic disorders, according to the CDC, and it "can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases". "And we can't always detect them in each individual patient for a variety of reasons".

As CDC scientists search for the root cause of the mysterious ailment, the organisation has urged healthcare providers to be extra vigilant when dealing with patients displaying limb weakness and mobility issues.

The agency knows that poliovirus is not the cause of these cases, because CDC has tested every single stool specimen from patients, and none have tested positive for poliovirus.

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