Tuesday, 13 November, 2018


7th Case of Rare Disease Diagnosed

Patty Aguilar | 18 October, 2018, 03:42

A Tennessee mother said her child was the latest diagnosis.

The Hill family is from Chattanooga. Ninety percent of those affected are children.

"We certainly don't want to alarm people because it's very rare, but at the same time, I believe it's something that's best to have checked out".

"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.

Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is a condition that affects the nervous system, particularly the spinal cord.

Here is what is known about the disease that has had 127 confirmed or suspected cases in 22 states as of Tuesday, including Pennsylvania. Officials said it's too early to know whether the total for 2018 will surpass those previous years.

The CDC says the illness could be caused by viruses, environmental toxins, genetic disorders, or a condition in which the immune system attacks body tissues.

The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said.

As far as prevention, doctors recommend the polio vaccine but also say to practice good hygiene. Messonnier said West Nile virus, which had been listed as a possible cause on CDC's website, is also not causing the illnesses.

Symptoms include the sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and the loss of muscle tone and reflexes. None of the USA patients tested positive for polio, a crippling and often deadly disease which was eliminated in this country thanks to the polio vaccine.

Cases have been on the rise since 2014. The disease was first identified in 2014, but the scary part is that cases seem to be increasing.

Typical symptoms of AFM are similar to those of a severe respiratory illness, along with a fever, but those often progress into neurological symptoms. This condition is not new, but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new ... Neurologists may suggest treatments on a case-by-case basis. What happens to patients down the line is unclear; some recover quickly, while others may need long-term care. But, if their child is diagnosed, parents should prepare for extensive physical therapy - therapy that isn't always covered by insurance, he said.

What can you do to prevent AFM?

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

"Getting vaccinated, taking precaution against mosquitoes, washing hands-all of these things are recommended by the CDC", Narula said.

Nancy Messonnier, a doctor at the CDC, called it a "mystery illness".

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