CDC Warns of Polio-Like Virus Striking More US Kids

An electron micrograph of a thin section of EV-D68 a rare enterovirus.									Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Yiting Zhang  CDC

An electron micrograph of a thin section of EV-D68 a rare enterovirus. Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Yiting Zhang CDC

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 (CDC). Ninety percent of the cases have been in children, she says.

"Despite extensive laboratory testing, we have not determined what pathogen or immune response caused the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients", Messonnier added.

While just one person in a million gets it every year, it's a growing health concern. But Messonnier said that, in general, parents can help protect their children from diseases by washing their hands, making sure their children are up to date with vaccinations and applying insect repellent to protect against mosquito bites, which can spread viruses.

The Douglas County Health Department's Phil Rooney said, "This is not a diagnosis like flu or other diseases where you can do blood draw fluids". It follows a peculiar seasonal pattern, with the highest incidence occurring every other year in late summer or fall.

The states reporting confirmed cases are Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

What's behind the rise in reports?

Health officials don't have an exact cause of AFM. "There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I'm frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness". "We have detected enterovirus in several of these individual cases".

A rare polio-like disease is affecting children across the country and St. Louis has its first reported case of acute flaccid myelitis.

Since 2014 there have been almost 400 confirmed cases of AFM across the United States.

With no answers as to the cause, it's important for parents and caregivers to know the symptoms so they can get their child immediate care.

Viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders are among the suspected causes of the illness, which often begins with fever, respiratory issues and muscle weakness. Alarming symptoms consist of sudden, onset paralysis of a limb.

Although the cause of the polio-like disease is unknown, symptoms include sudden arm or leg weakness, difficulty moving the eyes and difficulty with swallowing. Nor can they explain why only a handful of infected children developed AFM.

Dr. Leslie Benson, assistant director of Children's pediatric neuroimmunology program, said AFM patients show a wide spectrum of symptoms.

Like other neurological diseases, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, physical therapy or occupational therapy are the only treatment options for people with AFM. Neurologists may suggest treatments on a case-by-case basis. The public health agency also does not fully understand long-term consequences or why some patients recover quickly while others continue to experience weakness.

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