CDC: Mysterious paralyzing illness reported in 22 states


To give parents, healthcare workers, and public health officials a look at what to expect, she said the CDC will report suspected cases this year, as well as confirmed ones.

There are now 62 confirmed reports of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, across 22 states in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Messonnier said the search for a cause is frustrating, and so far, no particular pathogen or immune response has been identified that would explain the big AFM peaks. Messonnier said West Nile virus, which had been listed as a possible cause on CDC's website, is not causing the illnesses. Several cases have been linked to enteroviruses or other germs, but officials have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these cases. Most of the cases are in children under the age of 19, with kids under the age of 4 appearing to make up the biggest portion of cases. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness.

"This is a pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier said.

It's called acute-flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

The rare disease, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis, mainly in children. Of these, 62 have been confirmed by the CDC, and the remainder continue to be investigated, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the agency's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. noting that the confirmed cases are in 22 states. But some states have previously announced clusters, including Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, New York and Washington.

Among the cases under investigation are five reported to Maryland health officials in recent weeks, a health department spokeswoman said Tuesday.

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Data collected since the establishment of standardized surveillance helped with the identification of another increase in reports nationally during 2016 and has provided additional valuable information on the clinical presentation to help better characterize the clinical features, epidemiology, and short-term outcomes of cases of AFM. "I think there's still a lot of research that needs to happen".

The cause of AFM is a mystery.

Rathore said since its unclear what causes AFM, there is no treatment - it has to take its course on its own. He also recommends getting the flu shot, although it won't prevent or cure AFM.

The number of cases in 2018 is on track to match a similar number of cases in 2014 and 2016.

Most people infected with enteroviruses suffer only minor symptoms like cough and runny nose.

In some cases children have recovered, but in others the paralysis has lingered.

Lacking an established cause, health officials confirm cases through a review of brain scans and symptoms. Another 149 were reported in 2016. So far, a common cause linking these illnesses has not been found.