127 suspected and confirmed cases of polio-like condition — CDC

Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates

Messonnier said that the CDC has neither a clear idea of who might be at higher risk of developing the disease nor why.

"Acute flaccid myelitis is a rare and potentially life-threatening disease that is affecting residents across the state", said Dr. Rachel Levine, the state's secretary of health. One death of a child diagnosed with AFM occurred in 2017.

Data collected since the establishment of standardized surveillance helped with the identification of another increase in reports nationally during 2016 and has provided additional valuable information on the clinical presentation to help better characterize the clinical features, epidemiology, and short-term outcomes of cases of AFM.

Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and interim dean of the school of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said numerous patients she saw were healthy children before falling ill with the disease.

The CDC is investigating 127 reported cases, including the ones that have been confirmed.

The rare disease, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Acute flacid myelitis or AFM is not new, but cases have been on the rise since 2014.

While the symptoms of this virus has been described as polio-like, it is not polio, which has been eradicated in most of the world.

Massachusetts General Neurology Department Director Dr. Marcelo Matiello urged parents who see any of these symptoms to get their children to a neurologist without hesitation.

So far, 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states, the CDC said. So while it is a scary condition, it is also extremely rare and affects less than one in every million people in the U.S. - even with the spike in cases. "At this time, the exact causes or source of this disease is unknown". More than 90% have been in children, and the average age is 4 years.

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"There is a lot we don't know about AFM", Messonnier said during a teleconference for reporters.

Some patients recover quickly, while others experience paralysis and require ongoing care.

Another wave hit in 2016, with 149 patients affected in 39 states. It's very new, it's emerging. "The majority of kids have persistent weakness".

But both Glatter and Ehresmann were quick to reiterate that AFM is very rare. "We don't need to panic on this".

Pardo-Villamizar said, "We don't know if the virus is attacking directly the spinal cord, or if the immune response against the virus is producing the damage to the spinal cord". The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure that can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak. But some state health departments have been making public their reported cases.

"This is actually a pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier went on.

Possible causes being considered include viruses that affect the digestive system called enteroviruses, and possibly strains of rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, she said.

Ehresmann noted that the sudden onset of muscle weakness is the most obvious sign. And it is not ruling out possible genetic disorders. CDC has tested every stool specimen from every AFM patient.

The number is almost double the amount observed in 2017, when 33 AFM cases were found in the US. There have now been a total of 386 confirmed cases since 2014.

Nonetheless, it's important to get patients to a doctor right away if there are any symptoms of limb weakness.

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