Monday, 19 November, 2018

Possible polio-like illness case reported in Douglas County

Cases of Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Reported in 22 states The CDC has identified a polio-like virus in the US. Here’s what you need to know.
Melissa Porter | 19 October, 2018, 04:37

The CDC has confirmed 62 cases of AFM in 22 states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier with the CDC said, "We are looking at anything that might be causing the AFM because our earlier investigations haven't revealed the cause".

So far the disease has claimed one life in the U.S.

The CDC says AFM's cause can vary from a virus to environmental toxins to genetic disorders. "We actually don't know what is causing this increase. We are looking beyond the normal infectious diseases that can cause this". The CDC says it counted 22 cases in 2015, 149 cases in 2016 and 33 cases in 2017. It follows a peculiar seasonal pattern, with the highest incidence occurring every other year in late summer or fall.

The CDC does not name states with confirmed or suspected cases.

"We don't know why in the majority of cases, we don't even find a cause for the illness, we can't determine what virus may have caused it, and so that's been challenging nationwide", said Susann Ahrabi-Fard, communicable disease epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Officials said they will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases.

Depending on which part of the spine is damaged, different muscles can become weak or paralyzed.

Experts don't know what causes the disease that can lead to muscle weakness or difficulty breathing. The once-healthy child now relies on a wheelchair to get around, a ventilator to breathe and a feeding tube to eat. Both were boys-one age six, one three; each had a common cold-like illness and spiked a fever about a day before they stopped using one leg. It tends to develop in children more than adults.

More than 90 percent of the cases are in children 18 years and younger.

At the press conference, Messonnier emphasized how rare the disease is.

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

Although some AFM patients tested positive for an enterovirus, indicating a possible link, not all had the virus.

But both Glatter and Ehresmann were quick to reiterate that AFM is very rare. It's also a serious condition.

But researchers who have studied the muscle-weakening disease-called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)-most closely say they now have a good understanding of its primary cause, although they still do not know how to treat the condition or halt its progression.

What are the symptoms of AFM?

"This is truly a mystery disease", Messonnier told CBS News. "The hallmark is sudden onset of weakness in the arms or the legs".

Some children with AFM recover completely, but others are disabled for years.

Follow-up with patients from the 2014 and 2016 waves has shown that most children do not recover from acute flaccid myelitis, for which there now is no cure.

It attacks the nervous system, specifically the spinal area.