WHAT’S UP DOC? Polio-like illness

Cases of AFM by state confirmed in 2018

Doctors aren't sure what causes the rare illness, but some believe a certain virus may be responsible for the recent uptick in cases.

Gillibrand says there are several cases still being investigated by the CDC and fears that many children have already died or been paralyzed in unconfirmed cases of AFM.

AFM affects the nervous system, causing paralysis that can lead to potentially deadly respiratory failure. "I'm sure if I provide the data to each senator about how many cases they have in their state, they'll be made more aware about how serious this is, and how anxious parents are." .

The first confirmed case of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) was reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC began monitoring these cases after an outbreak in 2014.

While Colorado has confirmed the most cases, followed by Texas, it remains unclear whether there is a higher risk of AFM in those states, or if they were better at identifying and reporting it, according to CNN.

"If a virus is the cause, it's possible the test is not good enough, or the germ left the spinal fluid by the time the tests were taken", said the CDC's Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who is overseeing the agency's outbreak investigation, in a statement.

Despite the present limited understanding of AFM, there are some things that are known about this illness.AFM seems to most commonly cause symptoms in young children (most often less than 4 years of age).Its occurrence seems to peak in late summer/early fall (July through November).Almost two thirds of patients diagnosed with this illness do not regain full strength.The overall mortality from this condition is not yet known.

There appears to be an every-other-year spike in AFM cases.

Q: This new polio-like illness has been in the news a lot lately.Can you help me understand what this is all about?

Medical experts still don't know much about the rare disease, which strikes just one in 1 million Americans.

There is no specific treatment for acute flaccid myelitis. "AFM can have symptoms that are similar to polio".

Most patients will have sudden onset of limb weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes.

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