Thursday, 15 November, 2018

CDC investigating mysterious polio-like disease in New Hampshire

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass. Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates
Judith Alexander | 18 October, 2018, 03:45

A sharp spike in cases of pediatric acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is raising red flags with health officials, who despite concerted efforts, haven't identified a cause.

The MDH says the case is now being reviewed, and did not provide information regarding where in the state this particular case was diagnosed, or whether or not the child is in the hospital.

The CDC says this is still a rare condition that affects less than one in 1 million people per year. Symptoms are sudden arm or leg weakness, difficulty moving facial muscles, slurred speech and trouble swallowing.

What is known about the illness is that more than 90 percent of the confirmed cases are in children 18 years old or younger.

One case of the rare, polio-like disease acute flaccid myelitis has been confirmed in Oklahoma, officials say. No one knows what causes AFM, although a virus or viruses are suspected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed cases in 22 states overall.

Kelly Tunan's 5-year-old son was diagnosed with the disease in 2015 and had to undergo several surgeries on his right leg and right foot.

Messonnier stressed that while she understands how frightening this situation is for parents, they should remember that the infections are, in fact, rare. The CDC would not release a list of the states reporting probable or confirmed cases.

Cases nationwide may have gone up since 2014, but Wisconsin didn't see its first case until 2016, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

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To help prevent the illness' spread, the CDC advises proper hand washing, staying up to date on vaccines and using mosquito repellent to avoid bites.

MA has seen a total of 16 confirmed cases in children since 2014, plus one probable case in an adult.

Still, because this is a "pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier said health officials want to raise awareness about the symptoms to make sure parents seek medical care immediately if their children show a sudden onset of weakness in their arms and legs.

Unfortunately, there's no specific treatment for AFM. Messonnier added that health officials are considering other potential causes, such as West Nile virus and environmental toxins, though none of the cases have involved them.

For example, the CDC doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or why some are at higher risk, she said.

"This is a mystery so far", the CDC's Dr. Nancy Messonnier said in a call Tuesday with reporters.

In some cases children have recovered, but in others the paralysis has lingered.

There are five cases of AFM in Maryland. That way, they can have their cases reported to the CDC so that they can get to the bottom of what this is and how to stop it.

CNN has reported that this year, more than half of all US states have had confirmed or possible cases, including North and SC.

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