Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Health officials: 3 cases of rare polio-like disease in Georgia

Melissa Porter | 18 October, 2018, 14:54

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say that a case from the summer has now been classified as AFM.

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.

Health officials don't have an exact cause of AFM.

The CDC says that there has been an increase in cases of AFM since 2014.

While the CDC has yet to confirm a case in Virginia, Hoff said her son Camdyn was diagnosed with AFM while hospitalized at UVA Medical Center, falling ill with the telltale symptoms.

"We know this can be frightening for parents", said Dr. NancyMessonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "At this time, the exact causes or source of this disease is unknown". "There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I'm frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness".

In a few cases, it appears that the illnesses were linked to viruses, including enterovirus.

Parents and caregivers across the country are growing concerned following recent reports of a mysterious, polio-like illness. "Children can also have trouble swallowing, trouble with their speech, facial droop and trouble with their eye muscles".

The first cases of AFM coincided with an unusually severe outbreak of a common virus that affects the lungs or gut.

"I think I would tell parents to be vigilant in looking out for, you know, arms or legs not working, that floppy head, those respiratory symptoms that don't seem consistent with other basic illnesses", she said. The three children affected in Georgia are also in that age range, state officials said. Scientists are investigating a number of causes, including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said on its website.

Fox 2/KPLR 11's Dan Gray talked to an infectious disease specialist who said the disease isn't new but should be considered a growing health concern.

"Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

"That's when children can really deteriorate and end up on a ventilator", Narula said.

The number of confirmed cases has been on the rise since late 2014, when there were 120 confirmed cases from August to December in 34 states. Doctors at Children's have not seen an AFM patient needing a ventilator this year, but have treated such cases in the past, Benson said.

The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said.

Her mother said she probably won't be 100 percent back to herself but, through physical therapy, she is hoping for the best.