Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Polio-Like Condition in Kids on Rise Again in US

Polio-Like Condition in Kids on Rise Again in US

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health announced there have been a total of six reports of pediatric acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) since September 20.

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At least three cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) have been detected in the Pittsburgh area.

It's so rare that less than one in a million will get AFM, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms include limb weakness, facial drooping and trouble swallowing.

What can cause the illness? It is believed that AFM can be contagious, and for this reason, isolation protocols are in place for patients who are confirmed to have the neurological illness. Among the viruses that can cause AFM are West Nile virus and poliovirus.

How many cases have there been?

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There is a reported total of 8 AFM cases statewide. After the 120 cases in 2014, there were 22 in 2015, 149 in 2016, and 33 past year, according to the agency.

The condition is still very rare, occurring in fewer than one in a million people in the US each year, the CDC says.

AFM has been around for a while, but the CDC notes that there have been increases in the number of cases reported starting in 2014.

According to the Washington Department of Health, the children are being evaluated for acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare condition that affects a person's nervous system and can cause paralysis. All of those patients were under the age of 10 and were hospitalized around the middle of September, according to an October 5 news release. The CDC has not identified a germ that has been consistently found in every case of AFM, according to its website. A medical report detailing the case of a 12-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with AFM noted that caring for patients with AFM often means involving an infectious disease physician, a neurologist, an orthotist, physical therapist and a speech therapist. Officials said most of the cases are associated with a strain of enterovirus. Both enterovirus A71 and enterovirus D68 are types of non-polio enterovirus. "There have been no deaths".

Herlihy called both enterovirus A71 and enterovirus D68 "rarer strains" of enterovirus.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the Colorado state epidemiologist, said the best prevention is frequent handwashing and keeping kids home when they are sick.

Most people will instead experience things like a cold, a rash, diarrhea or hand, foot and mouth disease, she explained.

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