Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Rare Polio-like Mystery Illness Investigated by CDC

Acute Flaccid Myelitis causes paralysis Eric Audras Getty Images Acute Flaccid Myelitis causes paralysis
Melissa Porter | 25 October, 2018, 03:15

CDC officials say they haven't found the cause of the illness, though a virus is suspected.

Acute flaccid paralysis, also known as acute flaccid myelitis, is experiencing a small surge in the US, where more than 60 cases have been confirmed in recent weeks.

Officials are investigating a fifth suspected case of a potentially devastating muscle-weakening syndrome that affects mostly children and can cause paralysis, the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services said Monday.

The CDC received information on 33 confirmed cases of AFM in 2017, 149 cases in 2016, 22 cases in 2015, and 120 cases in the latter part of 2014. That outbreak coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness.

CDC stresses that AFM still remains a very rare condition, with an occurrence rate of less than one among a million people.

"CDC has been actively investigating AFM, testing specimens and monitoring disease since 2014, when we first saw an increase in cases", Messonnier told reporters last week.

The trigger for the condition is unknown, but MRI imaging shows that those with AFM have an inflammatory abnormality in a region of the spinal cord called the anterior horn cell.

AFM is quite rare, but parents should be aware of the signs, CDC said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 62 cases of a polio-like illness that causes weakness in the legs and arms. These kids have a sudden onset of weakness. "We try to keep muscles and joints as healthy as possible so that when the nervous system is repairing itself, it will have adequate muscle to connect to", Greenberg said. While potential causes may include certain viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC says, "AFM can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases". It's characterized by sudden, asymmetric weakness in the arms or legs.

The best prevention is getting the polio vaccination, which helps protect against the polio virus.

The first case of the illness, for which there is no specific treatment or cure, was confirmed in MA in August, according the department. That virus has been identified as one cause of AFM. And the CDC recommends staying up to date on vaccines, avoiding mosquito bites, and washing your hands as ways to possibly avoid contracting AFM.

"We don't know a lot about the long-term prognosis of AFM right now. We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care".