‘Polio-like’ illness cases investigated by CDC: Should you be concerned?

Acute Flaccid Myelitis which causes paralysis has been reported in several children's hospitals in Eastern Canada

Since then, the CDC has confirmed 386 cases of AFM, including 62 cases in 22 states this year. Most cases affects children but the Ingham County case is a male adult over 55. The collection of information on suspected cases is relatively new, and states are not required to send the information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which began noticing an increase in AFM cases across the nation in August 2014. You are significantly more likely to be struck by lightning (about 1 in 14,600 people are, according to the National Weather Service) than to contract AFM, which affects less than one in 1 million people.

"Yes it is rare, but it is happening more than the numbers say", Young said.

The CDC is actively investigating the recent cases and monitoring the disease's activities, as well as working closely with health care providers and health departments to increase awareness. AFM usually presents in just one side of the body, and tends to target the legs more so than the arms, he said.

"Until you actually identify the virus or whatever microbial agent it is with a laboratory confirmation test you can not be 100 percent certain", he said.

"If we don't know what causes it, we don't know how to treat it", Dr. Vogel said.

Doctors don't know what causes AFM, but Kassam said it may be related to class of viruses known as enteroviruses, which also causes polio.

The CDC said certain viruses, such as poliovirus and West Nile virus could lead to conditions like AFM. The CDC does not fully understand long-term consequences or why some patients recover quickly while others continue to experience paralysis and weakness.

Bhargava says parents should aware of the symptoms, but not overly concerned. There are 155 cases under investigation nationwide.

Sutfin says parents should protect their children against mosquito bites, and make sure they are up to date on their vaccines, as well as encourage frequent handwashing. The CDC says the cause could be a viral or triggered by an environmental toxin, or something else.

She is talking about AFM, a rare neurological disease that often starts with symptoms of a virus and leaves children with weak limbs or paralysis.



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