Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

The increase in cases of AFM has alarmed public health officials because not all of the children affected fully recover

The increase in cases of AFM has alarmed public health officials because not all of the children affected fully

Today, federal health officials expressed worry about an uptick in acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a mysterious and rare condition mostly affecting children.

There are now more than 125 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis - the "mystery illness" that's been affecting children across the USA and leaving them paralyzed.

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

It shows distinct abnormalities of the spinal cord gray matter on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The CDC has been tracking cases of AFM since a noted spike in 2014.

Waves of similar illnesses occurred in 2014 and 2016. More than 90 percent of the confirmed cases have been in children 18 and younger, with the average age being 4 years old.

A polio-like illness that can cause paralysis in children is now here in the Carolinas.

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.

That's when we spoke with the families of 4-year-old Camdyn Carr, who's now fighting the disease, and 7-year-old Sebastian Bottomley, who previously fought AFM. Some patients recover completely, while others continue to struggle with muscle weakness. "And certainly after three cycles of this, when we've looked through all the normal agents, we're looking beyond that to see if there are things beyond normal infectious diseases that could cause this", said Messonnier.

The CDC is actively investigating the cases and working with healthcare providers as well as state and local health departments to spread the word about AFM.

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Messonnier stressed that while she understands how frightening this situation is for parents, they should remember that the infections are, in fact, rare.

More broadly, she noted, "there is a lot we don't know about AFM".

So far, the CDC has found no relationship between vaccines and children diagnosed with AFM from the 2014 cases.

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

That's up from 22 people who were said to have it in 2015.

The agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing this condition or the reasons they may be at higher risk. CDC has tested many different specimens from patients with this condition for a wide range of pathogens, or germs, that can cause AFM.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, but doctors may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness.

The CDC referred calls to individual state health departments.

States are not required to provide this information to the CDC but have been voluntarily reporting their data.

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