6 things to know about AFM, the mysterious illness affecting kids

by Noah Mcgee October 20, 2018, 0:45
6 things to know about AFM, the mysterious illness affecting kids

"We understand that people, particularly parents, are concerned about AFM", said Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. The incidences, 62 of which are confirmed, are spread across 22 states.

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said.

It's possible that some milder cases haven't been reported by doctors to their state health department or the CDC, but Messonnier believes that number would be small.

The first case of acute flaccid myelitis, a rare polio-like illness that can cause paralysis and mostly affects children, has been confirmed in Florida. "We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care", Messonnier said.

AFM is an extremely rare but serious disease that affects the nervous system and results in polio-like symptoms, though the CDC says that all confirmed cases of AFM have tested negative for poliovirus.

"Overall, the rate of AFM over the years that it has been diagnosed which is since 2014 is less than one in a million". One of those cases is suspected of AFM and is being reviewed by the state. And in very rare cases, AFM can trigger fatal neurological complications.

But an outbreak of the syndrome now occurring in Colorado has been associated with enterovirus A71, a strain that is much more common in southeast Asia, said Dr. Samuel Dominguez, a pediatric infectious disease expert with Children's Hospital Colorado. At this point, there appears to be no geographic clusters in the illness. Another kind of virus was found in only some of the cases. Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, a neurologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, said that the mystery lies in whether the damage seen in AFM is caused by an external agent or the body's own defenses.

In Minnesota, six young patients have been diagnosed with AFM and the disease has public health officials on alert.

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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.

Because officials don't know the cause of AFM, they can't recommend a specific way to prevent it.

According to the CDC, scientists have not yet been able to determine who is most at risk for developing AFM.

On Monday, CNN reached out to health departments in every state and received responses from 48 states plus the District of Columbia.

Rathore, the Jacksonville specialist, said he was not shocked at seeing a case this year.

AFM is now reported in 22 states across the USA, federal health officials said. "There's going to be a delay, a lag in the timing of some of these reports". Then in 2016, there were 149 confirmed cases.

A Tennessee mother says her son is the latest victim of a mysterious polio-like disease that is concerning parents across the country.

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