5th suspected case of rare muscle-weakening illness being investigated in MA

Acute Flaccid Myelitis, Which Causes Paralysis In Kids, Reported In Canada

Acute Flaccid Myelitis, Which Causes Paralysis In Kids, Reported In Canada

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says it is investigating a fifth suspected case of acute flaccid myelitis, the rare, polio-like illness that causes muscle weakness and paralysis. It can lead to serious neurological problems, the CDC said in a statement last week.

Most of the AFM cases that the CDC has studied have no indication of any particular infection.

But it is not polio, the CDC said. "Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now".

The CDC has tested stool specimens from all the confirmed cases, and found no poliovirus in any of the samples.

"I can confirm that since September, we have certainly seen an increase of patients with muscle weakness who also had a preceding viral illness", Dr. Jeremy Friedman, associate pediatrician-in-chief at the Hospital for Sick Children, told CBC.

There have been two confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, in MA this year.

AFP is the umbrella term used for "syndromes characterized by the acute onset of weakness of the limbs", including AFM, CDC notes.

"We're seeing enough kids get better that we can look parents in the eye and say, 'This is a horrific event, and we empathize with you, but the good news is, with work, we can show you kids who are walking and back in school, '" Greenberg said.

HuffPost Canada has reached out to the Canadian Paediatric Society for comment.

The cause of AFM is unknown, but it may be a result of viruses and environmental toxins, according to the CDC.

Symptoms have been most similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including polio-virus, non-polio enteroviruses and West Nile Virus.

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM", Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the agency's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told the media.

"Overall, the rate of AFM over the years that it has been diagnosed, which is since 2014, is less than one in a million", she said.

It is also unclear who could be at higher risk of developing AFM, Messonnier said. Some patients experience long-term paralysis requiring long-term care while others may fully recover, according to Pardo-Villamizar. Several U.S. cases involved rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child", she said during a CDC telebriefing. "We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms and legs".

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