CDC: 'Mystery illness' leaving dozens of children paralyzed

CDC: 'Mystery illness' leaving dozens of children paralyzed

The state's health department said the five reported cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) also are being investigated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are among dozens of cases the federal health agency is looking into across the country.

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.

There are now more than 125 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis - the "mystery illness" that's been affecting children across the U.S. and leaving them paralyzed.

Health experts say the disease can lead to paralysis and even death, but no deaths have been reported so far this year.

MA has a confirmed case of a polio-like illness that is being reported across the country.

Messonnier said the CDC has definitively ruled out polio - which causes a similar set of symptoms - as the cause. Parents should seek medical care immediately if their child develops sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs.

In a few cases, it appears that the illnesses were linked to viruses, including enterovirus.

"This is a mystery so far", Messonnier said, describing AFM as a "pretty dramatic disease", which preys on a child's nervous system.

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Since 2014, 386 cases have been confirmed, the CDC said on Tuesday.

"We know this can be frightening for parents", Messonnier said.

The CDC referred calls to individual state health departments.

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.

At least 65 more cases are under investigation, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Some patients recover quickly, while others experience paralysis and require ongoing care. Then in 2016, there were 149 confirmed cases. And in very rare cases, AFM can trigger fatal neurological complications, according to the CDC.

In an email Tuesday, Maryland Department of Health spokeswoman Brittany Fowler said the CDC will "make a determination about the status of the cases" in Maryland "based on clinical and laboratory information". But Messonnier said that, in general, parents can help protect their children from diseases by washing their hands, making sure their children are up to date with vaccinations and applying insect repellent to protect against mosquito bites, which can spread viruses.

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