Rare polio-like disease reported in Ohio

Grant Boone
October 25, 2018

Less than one in a million people in the United States get AFM each year.

Sixteen children have been diagnosed with the illness in MA since 2014, and last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 62 cases in 22 states this year.

These 62 confirmed cases are among the total of 155 reports that CDC received of patients under investigation (PUIs).

It is also unclear who could be at higher risk of developing AFM, Messonnier said. "I know many parents want to know what the signs and symptoms are that they should be looking for in their child".

The CDC observed an increase in AFM cases in 2014 when it confirmed 120 from August to December, coinciding with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among people caused by enterovirus D68. "We have not confirmed the cause for the majority of these cases", the agency said. It causes sudden weakness in the arms or legs, facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. It causes hand, foot and mouth disease.

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The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) says there are 10 suspected cases of AFM in the state.

Although the symptoms of AFM have been described as "polio-like", polio has been ruled out as a cause in the US cases, CDC said in a press conference.

If a child "develops weakness of a limb, especially in the context of cold-like symptoms or other viral symptoms, they should see their health-care provider immediately", Toronto's Friedman told CBC. Most of the confirmed cases nationally involve children.

AFM cases on the rise in the U.S. Story continues below video.

It will take an MRI to confirm if the patients have AFM. "But if you are having the peaks of disease every late summer and early fall you would think we (would be) finding a single agent". In the past, an oral polio vaccine could cause a polio-like syndrome in some people, but that vaccine has not been available in the US since 2000 and the last known case in the USA was in an infant with other health problems who was vaccinated in India, brought to the US and died in 2013, the CDC says. "That's something that we're still really learning about", Jones said. Some possible suspects, such as polio and West Nile virus, have been ruled out. These viruses caused symptoms including encephalitis, a life-threatening inflammation of the brain; acute flaccid paralysis, which can include AFM and similar conditions; and meningitis.

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