Mysterious paralyzing illness reported in 22 states — CDC


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

CNN has reported that this year, more than half of all USA states have had confirmed or possible cases, including North and SC.

A polio-like illness that can cause paralysis in children is now here in the Carolinas.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, updated the media and public via a conference call on Tuesday. Only one death has been reported, which involved an AFM illness reported in 2017.

Since officials have been unable so far to determine how the disease spreads, they are starting to count suspected cases as well as confirmed to better anticipate increases in confirmed cases over the coming months, she said. The rare but serious disorder affects a person's nervous system, specifically the spinal cord.

The agency has not yet confirmed whether the New Hampshire patient, a juvenile from Rockingham County, contracted AFM or if it is another illness, said Jake Leon, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

USA health officials on Tuesday reported a jump in cases of a rare paralyzing illness in children, and said it seems to be following an every-other-year pattern.

MA has seen a total of 16 confirmed cases in children since 2014, plus one probable case in an adult.

She added that confirmation of each case requires a review of MRI images and symptoms, "so there is going to be a bit of a lag as we confirm those things". But Messonnier cautioned that it would be "premature" to be confident that this year will be the same as the earlier years. There was one confirmed death previous year, the CDC said on Tuesday. "Parents need to know that AFM is very rare even with the increase in cases we're seeing right now".

It's important for parents to know the symptoms so they can get their child immediate medical care and help doctors get a handle on the disease. The illness has been compared to the polio and West Nile viruses.

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Another potential cause of AFM is a type of enterovirus called EV D68, Todd said. Officials will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases.

The CDC is investigating the outbreak.

But the agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk nor why they may be at higher risk. To date, no pathogen has been consistently detected in AFM patients.

People can protect themselves from contracting AFM using methods similar to preventing getting the flu, Ellerin said.

There is no specific treatment for AFM. She said the average age of AFM patients is 4. "And he's had a lot of support at school with physical therapy".

Now 3 years old, Hunter has slowly recovered.

Other countries have reported AFM cases, but not the same seasonal pattern the United States has experienced. A spokeswoman for hospital said they have notified the health department and are working with the CDC to learn more about the illness.

States are not required to provide this information to the CDC but have been voluntarily reporting their data.

Dana Hedgpeth and Justin Wm.