Thursday, 18 October, 2018

What is acute flaccid myelitis? Rare Minnesota cases raise questions

Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children Rare 'Polio-Like' Illness Diagnosed in 6 Minnesota Kids
Melissa Porter | 11 October, 2018, 02:51

Per CNN, the condition is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and damages the body's nervous system.

Colorado has had 14 AFM cases so far this year, according to Colorado state epidemioloogist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.

The disorder is called acute flaccid myelitis - or AFM, for short - and there has been an increase in cases across the USA since 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There was a national outbreak of severe respiratory diseases which were caused by the enterovirus D68.

Since then, however, the Minnesota Department of Health said it has seen an AFM case about once a year.

CDC has tested many different specimens from AFM patients for a wide range of pathogens (germs) that can cause AFM.

Between August 2014 and August 2018, the CDC received information on 362 cases of AFM nationwide. Its origins are a mystery, but officials say a virus can cause some cases.

Normally when the people get affected with this disease, more than half of them don't recognize these symptoms as polio doesn't have any visible symptoms.

"We know that enteroviruses, especially EV-A71, have been associated with acute flaccid myelitis", Herlihy told NBC News.

According to the state health officer, In Minnesota, 6 children have been diagnosed with a rare and a tough disease which is somehow like polio. But in very rare cases, they can damage the nerves.

None of those cases are in Olmsted County, but it's still a concern across the state. Symptoms include sudden arm and leg weakness, drooping eyelids, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. AFM can cause paralysis that can prove deadly if the patient loses the ability to breathe on their own.

For example, a neurologist may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness. The condition can be diagnosed by examining a person's nervous system, taking a magnetic resonance imaging scan and testing the cerebral spinal fluid. "There's not much that can be done and as a parent that's very hard to deal with".

AFM can develop from a viral infection, although its exact cause is unknown.

The MDH urges parents and children to take basic steps to avoid illnesses, such as frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick, keeping current with vaccinations, and protecting against mosquito bites.