CDC Warns of Polio-Like Virus Striking More US Kids

Grant Boone
October 19, 2018

As CDC scientists search for the root cause of the mysterious ailment, the organisation has urged healthcare providers to be extra vigilant when dealing with patients displaying limb weakness and mobility issues. Other symptoms include: facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, or difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily. "Overall, the rate of AFM since 2014 is less than one in a million", she said. In rare cases, about a week after the infection, the child will develop weakness in his or her arms, legs or muscles of the face or throat, he says.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of 127 patients under investigation for acute flaccid myelitis this year. The average age was 4.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they haven't found the cause.

For 3-year-old Camden Stravers, what his parents thought was the common cold developed into something far worse.

Some victims have been infected with viruses, but researchers have been unable to identify a single virus responsible for all cases. AFM may be one of them.

A rare but devastating polio-like virus appears to have made itself at home in the United States, partially paralyzing hundreds of children.

Some patients diagnosed with AFM were found to have enterovirus D68, a cousin of poliovirus, in their systems. Glatter said the long-term effects of AFM are unclear at this time.

What's the prognosis for someone diagnosed with AFM?

Though AFM has not claimed any lives this year, there was one death in 2017.

"Most AFM cases occur in the late summer and fall", which she referred to as "seasonal clustering".

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"As a parent myself I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", Messonnier said.

AFM is still extremely rare.

Adults can take preventative steps to protect children from illness as much as is possible - think: washing hands, using insect repellant, and staying up to date on vaccination programs.

Any child experiencing weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs should be examined immediately.

According to the CDC, there's been a mild uptick in the number of AFM cases in the country since 2014.

While officials aren't clear of the exact cause, they say it can occur as a result of a variety of viral illnesses including the polio virus, enteroviruses, West Nile virus and adenoviruses. The disease attacks the nervous system, weakening the body's muscles and reflexes.

Health officials are able to confirm cases through a review of brain scans and symptoms.

Danielle Finkle, a mother from IL who was interviewed, said about her son: "He came to me and he's supporting his left arm with his right arm, and he says, 'Mommy my arm's broke'".

At this point, doctors aren't sure how the viruses cause acute flaccid myelitis.

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