Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
Health Care | By Belinda Paul

Seventh child in Minnesota contracts paralyzing illness

Seventh child in Minnesota contracts paralyzing illness

CNN found that Colorado had 14 confirmed cases, more than any other state, followed by Texas with eight and Minnesota with six.

One child has died of the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

"I encourage parents to seek medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs", Messonnier said.

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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. At least 90 percent of the cases are among patients 18 years old and younger. As stated by the health department, four cases showing AFM have been found during this year in Maryland.

"We know this can be frightening for parents", said Dr. NancyMessonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Officials began tracking the disease in 2014 when they received reports of 120 cases nationwide.

Health officials don't have an exact cause of AFM.

There is now no cure for AFM, known cause in most cases, or clear explanation for why some people who contract the enterovirus experience symptoms and others do not. But the link between AFM and EV-D68 is unclear because not everyone who has AFM tests positive for the enterovirus.

She emphasized the AFM cases are very rare, affecting 1 in 1 million people, and the condition is not caused by poliovirus, though symptoms can be similar to polio. 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.

Many other aspects of the illness remain unknown, including what factors puts a person at risk of becoming ill and the long-term consequences.

Some patients have quickly recovered, but one child who contracted AFM - which affects the nervous system via the spinal cord - died a year ago.

"CDC has been actively investigating AFM, testing specimens and monitoring disease since 2014, when we first saw an increase in cases", Messonnier said.

"There is not an outbreak of AFM", said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of infectious diseases and immunology at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville, where a 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with AFM and is under care in the ICU. "A respiratory illness or a viral illness and then it's the development of a sudden weakness", said Berbari. Some merely have difficulty moving the eye or the face; some have a single weakening limb. "For some of the previous cases we've identified one pathogen or another, but we have no unifying diagnosis".

Each year, doctors treat patients with enterovirus, which has many forms and often appears like a common cold.

"I would not be anxious because this is a cold virus like many other viruses". He continues to get therapy to strengthen his muscles and uses electric stimulation pads to help rejuvenate his damaged nerves.

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