Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

'Polio-like' illness cases flaring up: Should you be concerned?

'Polio-like' illness cases flaring up: Should you be concerned?

There are three new cases of a rare illness with symptoms similar to polio, and the patients are being treated in Pittsburgh. What causes it is unknown, possibly a virus, but doctors just don't know. Treatment mainly boils down to alleviating those symptoms.

"The patients are now undergoing diagnostic procedures and treatment", said Andrea Kunicky, a spokeswoman for UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where the children are being treated.

The type of viruses found in 12 of the Colorado cases, enterovirus, typically increases in summer and fall and is common, the state department of health said. The Minnesota cases have been diagnosed since September 20, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, which says officials are working "aggressively" with health care providers to try to gather more information about the cases. Most cases are in children.

There were two other suspected cases of AFM in the state earlier this year, according to Schultz. Chundi says doctors started seeing AFM cases, as far back as 2014 with a total of 362 nationwide to date. "Among the people confirmed with AFM, CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every patient".

There have been 38 confirmed cases in 16 states so far.

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There is no vaccine for AFM or a vaccine for enterovirus, a virus doctors know is associated with AFM.

Doctors now don't know a lot about how AFM spreads. You can reduce the chance of mosquito bites by using insect repellent and keeping kids indoors during times when mosquitos are prevalent.

"In very rare cases, it is possible that the process in the body that triggers AFM may also trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death", according to the CDC. Numbness or tingling is rare in people with AFM, although some people have pain in their arms or legs.

The health department says there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, but washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, cleaning surfaces with disinfectants, and staying up-to-date on immunizations is recommended.

If your child has any symptoms of AFM (limb weakness, facial weakness/drooping, difficulty speaking or swallowing), seek medical attention right away.

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