Monday, 22 October, 2018

Six Cases of Rare, Polio-like Illness in MN Children

Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children Rare 'Polio-Like' Illness Diagnosed in 6 Minnesota Kids
Delia Stanley | 12 October, 2018, 01:07

A rare but deadly disease with polio-like symptoms called acute flaccid myelitis has claimed more children than usual since 2014, according to an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - with rates appearing to skyrocket over the past few weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said AFM presents like polio or West Nile virus, estimates that fewer than one in a million people in the USA will get AFM each year. Doctors found a clue to what was wrong from an MRI scan.

Elaine and Michael Young said after a fever in July, their now-4-year-old Orville had trouble moving his right arm.

In 2017, 33 cases were reported in 16 states.

The mysterious illness that's paralyzing children is spreading across the United States, with cases popping up in both Chicago and Pittsburgh after initial reports from Minnesota.

Since August 2014, when the CDC began tracking the illness more closely, the agency has reported 362 cases.

AFM can occur as a result of a variety of germs including polio virus and non-polio enteroviruses, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses.

The condition is rare, and the state typically sees less than one diagnosis per year.

"Of the AFM cases, 11 tested positive for enterovirus A71, one tested positive for enterovirus D68, and two tested negative for enteroviruses", the department said in an online statement Tuesday. The average for the state is less than one case a year. Symptoms include weakness, loss of muscle tone, facial droop, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech and in severe cases, paralysis.

How is it prevented and treated? There are no specific treatments for AFM, so doctors may decide on certain treatments on a case-by-case basis.

Like many children, Julia Payne, the toddler at Lurie, started to show signs of weakness and problems breathing on her own after a prolonged cold, said Dr. Marcelo Malakooti, the medical director for Lurie's pediatric intensive care unit. In some cases, it can lead to paralysis or death but Dr. Robinette says this is a very rare complication of a common infection. The department has issued a health alert.

Health officials in Minnesota and at the CDC have recommended general preventive steps. This does not include all of the 14 cases announced by Colorado, as some of those cases were confirmed after September 30. These symptoms are similar to polio or the West Nile Virus. "Since we don't see a clear association with all of our cases with a particular virus or pathogen, the best we can do right now is to make sure you are doing everything you can".

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