Health Department: 7th Case Of AFM Diagnosed In Minnesota

Grant Boone
October 18, 2018

Federal health officials released the updated numbers on Tuesday, and said they still had no idea what was causing the spike in AFM cases or why kids were getting it in the first place.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have taken the significant step of issuing a public warning about an outbreak of a mysterious new disease that causes symptoms that are eerily similar to polio, reports the Washington Post. Health officials aren't sure, and they have given no concrete information as to why the illness seems to peak in the late summer and fall.

Asked about the discrepancy between the CDC's report of 22 states versus CNN's report of 30 states with cases, Messonnier said, "the 22 states that we're reporting are the states that have confirmed cases".

"Despite a lot of investigation by CDC and our partners, AFM remains a mystery disease", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases for the CDC.

The spikes were significantly higher in 2014, 2016 and 2018-to-date than in 2015 or 2017. No one knows what causes AFM, although a virus or viruses are suspected.

There have been no confirmed cases of AFM in Maine this year, according to Emily Spencer, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine CDC.

So far, the CDC has found no relationship between vaccines and children diagnosed with AFM from the 2014 cases.

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"Any weakness, including trouble swallowing, weakness of an extremity, especially in a child who has recently gone through signs of an infection, those would be the main red flags", said Sarah Hopkins.

The disease is extremely rare, with the CDC estimating that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year. Her mother said her symptoms kept getting worse and, by the weekend, she started losing function in her arms and legs.

There is no specific treatment for the virus.

The Douglas County Health Department's Phil Rooney said, "This is not a diagnosis like flu or other diseases where you can do blood draw fluids".

The CDC also hasn't ruled out either environmental toxins or some sort of autoimmune disorder as potential causes of AFM, Messonnier added. "We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care", Messonnier said. In total, there have been 386 confirmed cases since 2014.

According to the CDC, scientists have not yet been able to determine who is most at risk for developing AFM.

"So we're very lucky that he had (physical therapy) through early intervention".

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