Klobuchar Calls for CDC Investigation of Polio-Like Illness

Grant Boone
October 11, 2018

Three cases of a mysterious illness that partially paralyzes children and is likened to polio have now been confirmed in Pittsburgh. What causes it is unknown, possibly a virus, but doctors just don't know. As limbs become weak, a patient might lose the ability to use their arms or legs.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there have been 38 confirmed cases of AFM so far this year - with the most cases, 14, reported in Colorado and six in Minnesota.

The department of health says the main symptom to look for is a sudden loss of feeling in arms and legs.

"We have 41 cases of children who have had some sort of illness of enterovirus A71, which is causing a wide spectrum of neurological illness", Herlihy said.

CDC specialists will make the final call on whether these cases are in fact AFM.

Indeed, there has been an uptick in cases of AFM across the country. "They may have difficulty moving their eyes and some have slurred speech or difficulty swallowing; so very rare symptoms that you wouldn't expect to see in a child, so can be picked up very quickly", said Dr. Kevin Most, Northwestern. A 2-year-old girl was recently diagnosed in the Chicago area, and UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh confirmed that three children are now being treated for AFM at their facility. A few require ventilators to breathe, NBC News reported. Back in 2016, Washington state had 10 cases of AFM. These states include California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

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Dr. Elizabeth Meade, chief of pediatrics at Swedish Pediatrics, says AFM is more common in kids and is especially associated with viruses.

Additionally, the CDC has found a possible link between an increase in a respiratory virus and an increase of AFM.

AFM is a polio-like illness that affects a person's nervous system, including the spinal cord. "That enterovirus is transmittable from person to person, but you can't actually catch AFM from somebody else".

The doctor says there is no need to panic and there's no vaccine for the disease.

The CDC recommends getting children vaccinated against the poliovirus, as well as protecting against bites from mosquitos (which carry the West Nile virus).

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