Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Rare health threat captures attention in the heartland

| 18 October, 2018, 04:56

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say that a case from the summer has now been classified as AFM.

States reporting suspected cases or cases under investigation are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Washington.

Officials at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City said two cases of AFM have been confirmed at the hospital.

AFM affects the nervous system, specifically the area of spinal cord called gray matter, and causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak or even paralyzed.

So far across the county, 62 cases of the rare polio-like neurological condition have been reported. Outbreaks are most common from August to October, and over 90 percent of the cases have involved children under 18 years old, with the average age of those inflicted standing at just 4 years old.

More broadly, she noted, "there is a lot we don't know about AFM". There has been one AFM-related death, which happened in 2017.

According to yesterday's warning issued by the CDC, the disease could be linked to environmental toxins, genetic disorders or other viruses such as West Nile.


The Department of Public Health has confirmed the second MA case this year of a rare but potentially devastating illness that strikes mostly children and causes muscle weakness or paralysis. This condition is not new, but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new ...

The peculiar illness causes weakness in the limbs, loss of muscle tone, and may also result in neck pain, headache, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and in the worst of cases, respiratory failure.

Extremely. According to the CDC, there were 38 confirmed cases in 16 states this year through September 30.

The long-term effects are not known, and outcomes have been different for patients, with some recovering quickly and others having lasting paralysis and requiring ongoing care. We don't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or the reasons why they may be at higher risk. And though enteroviruses have been detected in some paralysis cases, it hasn't been found in others, CDC officials say.

Parents can best protect their children from serious diseases by taking prevention steps, such as washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

Dr. Leslie Benson, assistant director of Children's pediatric neuroimmunology program, said AFM patients show a wide spectrum of symptoms.

"You see your child, who likes to run and play", she said.

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