Tuesday, 13 November, 2018


What is acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), the polio-like illness causing worry?

Patty Aguilar | 18 October, 2018, 19:16

Mark Hicar, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at the University at Buffalo, S.U.N.Y., has treated two children with AFM, one in 2014 and one this year.

Doctors expected him to be discharged on Friday.

At least 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states this year, and at least 65 additional illnesses in those states are being investigated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 90 percent of those have been in children.

In AFM, the gray matter of the spinal cord gets damaged, leading to muscle weakness and paralysis. It causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to weaken and can even cause paralysis.

One thing scientists do know is that only one person in a million is infected with AFM each year in the United States. But she stressed that despite the increase in cases, the illness is still very rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in a million people in the US each year. That appears to indicate an every-other-year pattern.

Health officials are able to confirm cases through a review of brain scans and symptoms.

What's behind the rise in reports? Health officials are alarmed and frustrated, because a specific cause hasn't been identified.

"We have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these" cases, Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Wednesday at a news conference. "At this time, the exact causes or source of this disease is unknown". "We have detected enterovirus in several of these individual cases".

Federal health officials took the unusual step on Tuesday of warning the public about an increase in a mysterious and rare condition that mostly affects children and can cause paralysis. "Of course, I would suggest if your child develops weakness of any extremities, you have them assessed by a physician as soon as possible". "The hallmark is sudden onset of weakness in the arms or the legs. Children can also have trouble swallowing, trouble with their speech, facial droop and trouble with their eye muscles". We did swimming to help him as well. Nor can they explain why only a handful of infected children developed AFM. The benefit of seeking medical care is to attend to kids' symptoms, which can include respiratory failure, Science News reports, but there is now no cure for AFM.

The particular strain of virus might have something to do with the severity of AFM and how long its effects last. Treatments may vary from case to case.

"Early intervention is definitely always helpful". But data on the efficacy of treatments is so thin that he says he is not sure whether the therapy is helping the boy or not. What happens to patients down the line is unclear; some recover quickly, while others may need long-term care.

What can you do to prevent AFM?

Messonnier said West Nile virus, which had been listed as a possible cause on CDC's website, is also not causing the illnesses.

For now, the CDC recommends preventive action: washing hands, staying up to date on vaccinations, and protecting against mosquitos, which can carry viruses.

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