Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Medical | By Jackie Banks

6 Minnesota children sickened by polio-like illness — CDC

6 Minnesota children sickened by polio-like illness — CDC

Orville was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and spent six days in the hospital. The first of the six diagnoses was made in mid-September.

There have been 38 confirmed cases of AFM in 16 states so far, KDKA-TV in Pittsburg reported. A few need ventilators to breathe.

The EV-D68 virus has seen occasional outbreaks, usually in the summer or autumn. It seems to wax and wane from one year to the next, the CDC says. In Minnesota, three cases of the disease were reported in 2014, but since then the number had dropped until the latest outbreak.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received recent reports from health care providers of nine sporadic, clinically diagnosed cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

However, it can be hard to detect how patients actually get AFM. The CDC has not identified a germ that has been consistently found in every case of AFM, according to its website.

While aspects of the condition are puzzling, Messacar says it's no mystery disease. Unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM. Both enterovirus A71 and enterovirus D68 are types of non-polio enterovirus.

However, he said it wouldn't be surprising to see an enterovirus fill an infectious disease niche left by polio, given that polio is also caused by an enterovirus.

In very rare cases, AFM can trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death.

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AFM can be developed from a viral infection, although its exact cause is unknown. In July, he exhibited typical cold symptoms, immobility in his legs and paralysis of his right arm. And at the end of 2104, total numbers of people affected from AFM were 120 in 34 states.

"Parents described their kids as dizzy, wobbly and having jerky movements", Herlihy said. Among the viruses that can cause AFM are West Nile virus and poliovirus. Two cases required treatment in the intensive care unit for respiratory support, and all cases involved children younger than 10 years old from the Twin Cities area or central and northeastern Minnesota. The case reports are from individuals younger than 18 years of age and from northern IL.

AFM affects the nervous system and causes, mostly in children, paralysis similar to polio. Most patients must be hospitalized.

"Just to have him lift his head up a bit more to look to the side was a blessing, because we didn't know if that was coming back", Hill explains. It is important that tests are done as soon as possible after someone develops symptoms.

But there's not much else that parents can do to protect their children.

The disease is known to hit the nervous system by traveling through the spinal cord.

Editor's Note: The video above was originally published in 2016.

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