U.S. CDC confirms 62 cases of rare polio-like neurological condition

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

"This is a mystery and we haven't solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly", said Messonnier, adding, "You'd think that we would finding a single agent and that's not what we're finding".

What can be done to prevent AFM? Federal health officials this week sounded an alarm over an increasing incidence of AFM. Most patients have a respiratory illness like a cold before the neurological symptoms set in. It spreads due to contaminated feces & lack of washing hands, which is more common in children and small kids, according to Dr. Woods.

As of Tuesday, 62 cases of what doctors are calling acute flaccid myelitis have been confirmed in 22 states.

She said it was important for parents and clinicians to remember that this is a rare condition, affecting less than 1 in 1 million people under 18. But it can be a serious, debilitating disease.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, but treatments that have been tried include immunoglobulin replacement therapy, corticosteroids, plasma exchange and antiviral therapy, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Some patients have recovered quickly and others have received on-going care. "And he's had a lot of support at school with physical therapy". For example, 11 of the Colorado cases of AFM this year have tested positive for EV A71, a rare type of enterovirus not usually seen in the U.S., rather in Asia and other parts of the world, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. "We believe they could have done more to get the word out to hospitals and start working on a vaccine".

The number of confirmed cases reported to date is similar to levels reported in the fall of 2014 and 2016. In other cases, patients remain paralyzed. The highest number of cases took place in 2016, when 149 were reported cases in 39 states.

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Diagnosing AFM can be tricky, in part because there's no known cause for the illness.

Besides viruses, officials are also considering environmental toxins as a possible cause, but so far, they have no evidence that a particular toxin is behind the cases.

Acute flaccid myelitis affects the Central nervous system in children.

It shows distinct abnormalities of the spinal cord gray matter on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Acute flaccid myelitis can be caused by viruses, such as polio or West Nile.

Danielle Finkle, a mother from IL who was interviewed, said about her son: "He came to me and he's supporting his left arm with his right arm, and he says, 'Mommy my arm's broke'". "We don't know if it's a virus or an autoimmune process that's secondary to the virus". Officials will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases. "If you miss it, you're not missing a treatment". The U.S. has had 386 confirmed cases since August 2014. However, Messonnier said in her report, the CDC has tested every stool specimen from AFM patients, and none have tested positive for poliovirus.

"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child.

We don't know why in the majority of cases, we don't even find a cause for the illness, we can't determine what virus may have caused it, and so that's been challenging nationwide", said Susann Ahrabi-Fard, communicable disease epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

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