Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Like Polio Found Among Kids in 22 States

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 18, 2018

Messonnier said the CDC has definitively ruled out polio - which causes a similar set of symptoms - as the cause. But the season has not ended, and several possible AFM cases remain under investigation.

"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".

AFM cases tend to start in August, peak in October and taper off by December, according to the CDC. In 2016, 22 across 17 states in 2015 and 120 across 34 states in 2014.

One thing scientists do know is that only one person in a million is infected with AFM each year in the United States.

There was a confirmed in the state case back in 2017 and one in 2016.

The disease affects the spinal cord and can cause weakness and pain in the arms and legs.

- The North Carolina Department of Health and Services is investigating multiple cases of a mysterious paralyzing illness found in a number of states across the country. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

Messonnier stressed that while she understands how frightening this situation is for parents, they should remember that the infections are, in fact, rare. "At this time, the exact causes or source of this disease is unknown".

"I think I would tell parents to be vigilant in looking out for, you know, arms or legs not working, that floppy head, those respiratory symptoms that don't seem consistent with other basic illnesses", she said.

Messonnier said some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly while others continue to struggle with paralysis. However, none of the US patients tested positive for polio, and, according to Dr. Messonnier, none of this year's cases have been linked to West Nile virus. The CDC is now investigating a potential case of AFM in New Hampshire, an official said Wednesday. The paralysis sets in about a week after the children have come down with fever and respiratory illness.

MA has seen a total of 16 confirmed cases in children since 2014, plus one probable case in an adult. Doctors at Children's have not seen an AFM patient needing a ventilator this year, but have treated such cases in the past, Benson said.

"This is a pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier said.

Medical experts have unable to find a cause nor have they been able to determine who is at risk.

"Despite extensive laboratory testing, we have not determined what pathogen or immune response caused the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients". No one knows what causes AFM, although a virus or viruses are suspected.

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

"CDC has tested every stool specimen from the AFM patients, and none of the specimens have tested positive for the poliovirus", Ms Messonnier said. "So we're very lucky that he had (physical therapy) through early intervention".

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