Most states facing confirmed or possible cases of polio-like illness

18 October, 2018, 04:53 | Author: Stuart Potter
  • Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

Health officials Arkansas and Oklahoma say a rare illness that's being compared to polio may have reached the states as it spreads across the U.S.

So far this year, 127 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - a significant increase over 2017 and a worrying perpetuation of a disease for which there is little understanding.

CDC began tracking the condition in 2014, when there were 120 confirmed cases. Most of the cases have occurred in children.

The CDC has been tracking cases of AFM since a noted spike in 2014. 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.

"I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", she said.

"Although all cases are tested to see if it is tied to the polio virus and all have been negative, polio is a known cause of AFM", Nesemeier said.

The disease affects the nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord called gray matter. "Children can also have trouble swallowing, trouble with their speech, facial droop, trouble with their eye muscles". In other cases, patients remain paralyzed.

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Massachusetts General Neurology Department Director Dr. Marcelo Matiello urged parents who see any of these symptoms to get their children to a neurologist without hesitation.

"Acute flaccid myelitis is a rare and potentially life-threatening disease that is affecting residents across the state", Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said.

MA has seen a total of 16 confirmed cases in children since 2014, plus one probable case in an adult.

Although symptoms resemble polio, no evidence of poliovirus has been found in specimens from any case diagnosed so far, Messonnier said. The CDC says there are preventative measures people can take to reduce the risk of infections that could to AFM. There was one confirmed death past year, the CDC said on Tuesday.

The CDC is actively investigating and monitoring disease activity and recommends taking standard prevention measures such as hand-washing, protecting oneself from mosquito bites and staying up-to-date on vaccinations.

The CDC is not saying how many states have patients under investigation, only that it's more than 22. It's a rare disease, but the CDC thought that they might glean more about the nature of the outbreak, as well as clues about how to contain it, by releasing a report to the public.

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