U.S. CDC confirms 62 cases of rare polio-like neurological condition

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 19, 2018

Dr. Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, a neurologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, said that the mystery lies in whether the damage seen in AFM is caused by an external agent or the body's own defenses.

Because the disorder is rare - afflicting less than one in a million people - doctors weren't considering it initially, Hill said. Since then, there have been more than 350 confirmed cases of the sickness. CDC has tested every stool specimen from every AFM patient. There was one confirmed death past year, the CDC said on Tuesday. "We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms or legs". The CDC has been monitoring an increase in cases since 2014 and on Tuesday reported that it has confirmed 386 instances of AFM across the country over the last four years, majority involving children. There has been one AFM-related death, which happened in 2017.

Ninety percent of patients are children.

The first cases of AFM coincided with an unusually severe outbreak of a common virus that affects the lungs or gut.

Parents are urged to have their children take basic precautions, such as washing hands and using insect spray to ward off mosquito bites.

Mitchel Seruya, a surgeon at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, says when he has operated on children with AFM, he has been amazed by how unresponsive their affected nerves are. However, experts say that initial indications from a small number of cases suggest a grim outlook.

But the CDC still has suggestions to decrease the likelihood of getting the disease. Seruya has operated on 15 children whose AFM-induced paralysis lasted at least three months.

"Nobody really knows treatment protocols, they don't know prognosis, and they can't really give parents an answer as to where this is coming from", she said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of 127 patients with symptoms of the disease this year. Nor can they explain why only a handful of infected children developed AFM. Polio is a very similar virus-and there's a vaccine to protect against it. Polio was eradicated in the U.S.by vaccination.

The federal agency said similar waves of the illness occurred in 2014 and 2016.

Why is AFM likened to polio?

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) resembles polio in that it causes paralysis and mostly affects children, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ruled out polio as a potential cause, STAT reports. 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 CDC says that there has been an increase in cases of AFM since 2014.

There is no known cause or treatment, a state Department of Public Health advisory said. "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

Kerkering said doctors aren't sure what causes the spinal infection.

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