• January 23

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Polio-like Illness Hitting Kids

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Polio-like Illness Hitting Kids

The illness, called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), is contaminating many more kids in 2018 than it did in 2017. Only a handful of cases were concluded to be AFM in 2017, but now, in 2018, around 62 kids have been diagnosed in 22 states. This neurological damaging virus is being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they get a new report of the case very often. “We have not been able to find the cause of the majority of AFM cases…despite extensive laboratory testing, we have not determined what pathogen or immune response caused the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients…”, the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier told reporters. She also added that they do not know who may be at higher risk of developing Acute Flaccid Myelitis or the reasons why they would be. This virus is a total mystery.

The reason it is so difficult for them to figure the virus out is because they do not have a large enough group of study. Since the outbreak in 2014 to now, only 386 cases have been confirmed. “Overall, the rate of AFM over the years that it has been diagnosed is less than one in a million. That is why we say that this disease is incredibly rare,” Messonnier said. This syndrome is very similar to Polio, which once swept the country and paralyzed thousands of children. But, thankfully, AFM does not seem to cause paralysis or muscle weakness to the extreme that Polio did, Dr. Benjamin Greenberg expresses, an expert in rare neurological autoimmune disorders who has treated some AFM patients.

In 2014, the chief suspect for causing AFM was a virus called EV-D68. This virus is a distant relative to the poliovirus. Many of the kids detected with AFM were infected with EV-D68, while others were not. Since 2014, the CDC says, there has not been any especially notable increase in cases of EV-D68, even as cases of AFM rise and fall. But, because doctors aren’t sure of how the virus is caused, there is no way to vaccinate people against it.

On a good note, most kids by the time they are diagnosed with AFM have already passed the infection on their own. The CDC wants to make clear that none of the patients have tested positive for the polio virus. This small outbreak doesn’t seem to be near as threatening as some may think.

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Polio-like Illness Hitting Kids