January 20, 2019

Rare Polio-like Illness On The Rise In Children

14 October 2018, 08:48 | Rodolfo Wallace

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6 Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, polio-like disease

All of the cases have been reported on the west side of the state with two children in King County and one child in Pierce County, Lewis County and Snohomish County. The illnesses are described as having "polio-like symptoms".

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health said it was investigating six cases of AFM in children over the past few weeks but did not identify what virus or other cause may have led to the illnesses.

At Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, physicians are treating some of the six Minnesota cases.

In the past, Minnesota may only see one case in a year.

DSHS said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not know the cause of AFM or how it's contracted, but said there is a trend of spikes every other year.

The CDC reported 362 total cases from August 2014 to August 2018 with a major rise in cases reported in 2016 across 39 states.

Symptoms include arm or leg weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids and difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.

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Additionally, the CDC has found a possible link between an increase in a respiratory virus and an increase of AFM.

The most common transmission of AFM is through a virus, exposure to environmental toxins and genetic disorders.

Five western Washington children under the age of 6 have been hospitalized for a "sudden onset of paralysis of one of more limbs".

"We've been vigilant", Sanford Health Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Clifford Mauriello said. This is because CDC is asking doctors to be alert for patients with symptoms of AFM so that we can learn more about this condition.

"While all the patients were hospitalized, almost all have fully recovered", the department stressed. Nationwide, 38 cases in 16 states have been reported and there is still no known cause. Individuals diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) experience different issues due to largely gray matter involvement during recovery than traditional transverse myelitis with spastic paralysis.

AFM typically affects young children and creates polio-like symptoms. After the 120 cases in 2014, there were 22 in 2015, 149 in 2016, and 33 a year ago, according to the agency.

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