Jacksonville toddler hospitalized with polio-like illness

Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates

According to the Douglas County Health Department, a suspected case of AFM is being investigated in a young child.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued a warning about a disease known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), an illness it says it knows very little about but can cause arm or leg weakness and paralysis, particularly in children. Those officials are probing another 65 illnesses in those states.

AFM first jumped onto the CDC radar in 2014, with 120 cases within a five-month span in 34 states. Most of the cases have occurred in children.

The number of cases in 2018 is on track to match a similar number of cases in 2014 and 2016. "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

The cause of most of the AFM incidents is unknown, according to the CDC, as are the long-term effects. Despite extensive laboratory and other testing, CDC has been unable to find the cause for the majority of the cases.

A rare but devastating polio-like virus appears to have made itself at home in the United States, partially paralyzing hundreds of children.

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On the CDC's website, it lists symptoms of the disease, which include facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, or difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech. Since then, there have been more than 350 confirmed cases of the sickness.

Still, because this is a "pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier said, health officials want to raise awareness about the symptoms to ensure parents seek medical care immediately if their children show a sudden onset of weakness in their arms and legs.

The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure that can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak. The CDC still has not pin-pointed exactly what's causing this disorder, but they suspect a virus that circulates this time of the year. The CDC says an outbreak in 2014 seemed to coincide with an outbreak of enterovirus D68, however the virus wasn't found in every AFM patient. Six children in Minnesota were diagnosed with the disease since mid-September.

The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said.

MA has seen a total of 16 confirmed cases in children since 2014, plus one probable case in an adult. To help prevent the illness' spread, the CDC advises proper hand washing, staying up to date on vaccines and using mosquito repellent to avoid bites.

"Early intervention is definitely always helpful". Regaining the ability to walk after AFM infection may take a lot of physical therapy, Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, tells The Washington Post.

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