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Polio-Like Disease Spreads to Children in 16 States

Polio-Like Disease Spreads to Children in 16 States
October 15
16:40 2018

In the past month there have been a growing number of cases reported of a relatively rare neurological disease known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). At least 38 cases have been reported in 16 states and officials believe there are probably more cases that have not yet been diagnosed or may soon be diagnosed, according to a recent report:

“There were three new cases of suspected AFM reported in children on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…”

“There have been more than 38 cases of AFM reported this year since Sept. 30, from 16 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

“Since September, six children in Minnesota have been affected, and Colorado has reported 14 cases.”

AFM is often described as being a polio-like disease as it can result in partial paralysis. The CDC describes AFM as:

“…a condition that affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, which can result from a variety of causes. Practicing good hygiene is one way to protect yourself and your family from diseases that can cause AFM.”

Symptoms of AFM include the sudden loss of muscle tone, strength and reflexes, usually in their limbs. The weakness can be alarming and debilitating. AFM can also cause drooping of facial muscles and eyelids and difficulty moving the eye along with slurred speech and problems swallowing. Some patients also report a tingling in the limbs and problems urinating.

The muscle weakness can become so severe that it causes paralysis which can also lead to difficulty breathing and the need for being placed on an emergency respirator.

How is AFM diagnosed?

According to the CDC:

“A doctor can tell the difference between AFM and other diseases with a careful examination of the nervous system and the spinal cord, looking at the location of the weakness, muscle tone, and reflexes. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), lab testing of the cerebrospinal fluid, and checking nerve conduction and response can be very helpful in diagnosing cases of AFM.”

The causes of AFM vary. It can be caused by enteroviruses (both polio and non-polio types), West Nile Virus (and similar viruses in the same family, such as those that cause Saint Louis encephalitis and Japanese encephalitis), adenoviruses, some environmental toxins and even some genetic disorders.

Another source reported:

“Many of the diseases associated with AFM are transmitted through the digestive system via fecal-hand-oral contamination. The virus then infects cells of the mouth, nose, and throat. It can incubate for up to 14 days.”

There is no specific or single treatment, but a number of reports indicate that many of the current victims of AFM, mostly children, appear to be experiencing full recoveries.

According to the CDC, the best ways to avoid AFM include thoroughly washing hands with soap and water (especially before touching any food or drink and after going to the bathroom), keeping most surfaces in the home clean (especially those that come in regular contact with kids), and to avoid sick people.

Parents, watch your children for any signs of AFM. It usually comes on quick and if not quickly dealt with, can be quite dangerous and life threatening. If you suspect they have AFM, get them to the doctor or hospital as soon as possible.

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HLA Staff

HLA Staff

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