Health officials: Oklahoma child diagnosed with rare polio-like illness

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.
Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates

18 October, 2018

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I'm frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness".

It's possible that some milder cases haven't been reported by doctors to their state health department or the CDC, but Messonnier believes that number would be small.

This year, more than half of all USA states have had confirmed or possible cases of acute flaccid myelitis, the polio-like illness that can cause paralysis and mostly affects children, according to an exclusive CNN analysis.

Fox 2/KPLR 11's Dan Gray talked to an infectious disease specialist who said the disease isn't new but should be considered a growing health concern.

Despite its similarity to polio, none of the AFM patients has tested positive for the poliovirus, Messonnier said. The disease affects the body's nervous system and can cause paralysis.

"When these illnesses occur, it often means that the spread of the virus, the transmission of the virus, in the community is quite widespread and there probably are many persons, many children, affected just like when the flu comes to the community", Modlin said. At least 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states this year, and at least 65 additional illnesses in those states are being investigated.

One child has died of the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

The CDC urges parents to be aware of this illness and to seek medical care right away if family members develop sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs.

CDC officials say they haven't found the cause.

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Of the 127 cases, about 90 percent are people under the age of 18, Reuters reported.

CNN reached out to several health departments across the country, including IL, which reported 10 cases of AFM.

Because the disorder is rare - afflicting less than one in a million people - doctors weren't considering it initially, Hill said.

The agency has seen an increase in cases since August 2014.

There is now no cure for AFM, known cause in most cases, or clear explanation for why some people who contract the enterovirus experience symptoms and others do not.

The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said. Sixty-two cases are confirmed.

Six children in Minnesota were diagnosed with the disease since mid-September.

Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare". It could be potentially deadly if the diaphragm is paralyzed because the child would be unable to breathe.

CNN reached out to health departments in every state; 48 states responded, plus the District of Columbia. Also, she said there can be lags in reporting because of the time it takes to review a patient's clinical syndrome and radiographic findings.

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