CDC: Rare polio-like disease is spreading

CDC: Rare polio-like disease is spreading

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't know why young children across the country are coming down with a rare condition called Acute Flaccid Myelitis.

The disease is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. The CDC has confirmed 386 cases since it began tracking the condition in 2014. It caused an outbreak of 160 confirmed cases in the Lower Hudson Valley of NY in 2016, they reported."It looks like the new strains are better able to affect human motor neuron-like cells than older strains", said Tyler.It wasn't just the U.S.: European researchers reported 29 cases of EV-D68 infection in children and adults with acute flaccid myelitis in 2016.Tyler and colleagues infected mice with EV-D68 and showed it could affect the nervous system.

AFM affects a person's nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs. The disease would paralyze the arms or legs of a person's body.

"Until you actually identify the virus or whatever microbial agent it is with a laboratory confirmation test you can not be 100 percent certain", he said.

Whether the paralysis is ongoing depends on the patient, the CDC stated, because some have recovered quickly while others required continued care.

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"I hope not. We will be keeping an eye on this".

The Minnesota Department of Health announced it's working with the CDC to figure out the big question: What's causing AFM?

There are several ways people can contract AFM, including exposure to toxins in the air, genetic factors or through viruses such as poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and Saint Louis encephalitis virus, according to the agency. "When you are talking about infants and toddlers they are not fully immune competent", Rohde says.

Bhargava says parents should aware of the symptoms, but not overly concerned.

Since September, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto has also seen an increase in patients with symptoms typical of AFP, namely muscle weakness and a preceding viral illness, according to associate pediatrician-in-chief Dr. Jeremy Friedman. Parents can also help protect their children by encouraging hand washing, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites. "And, if your children develop weakness in their arms or their legs, especially if they've had a cold, take them to their doctor immediately".

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