Rare polio-like disease is spreading — CDC

MGN Online

MGN Online

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been 127 reported cases of the disease this year, and one child in the U.S. has died.

The CDC urges parents to be aware of this illness and to seek medical care right away if family members develop sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs.

Acute flaccid paralysis, also known as acute flaccid myelitis, is experiencing a small surge in the USA, where more than 60 cases have been confirmed in recent weeks.

According to NBC's report, most doctors and public health officials have no idea what viruses are going around until it's too late to pinpoint the cause.

"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child", she said during a CDC telebriefing.

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"We have [had] two patients we have treated in CHEO for [acute flaccid paralysis] since the summer", said Dr. Sunita Venkateswaran, a pediatric neurogologist with the children's hospital.

The disease affects a part of the spinal cord called the anterior horn, which helps control movement.

Friedman said they've seen "fewer than 20" probable cases of AFP at Sick Kids.

Although the symptoms of AFM have been described as "polio-like", polio has been ruled out as a cause in the US cases, CDC said in a press conference.

People should also try to not get bitten by mosquitos-especially in countries where the mosquitos carry the West Nile virus-by using repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn, and removing standing or stagnant water near where they're living.

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"I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said last Tuesday. Since the beginning of the year, 127 cases of AFM were reported in the US, including one death.

Friedman said the risk of a child developing the condition "is still incredibly low". Some patients experience long-term paralysis requiring long-term care while others may fully recover, according to Pardo-Villamizar. Several U.S. cases involved rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

It's unclear what's causing the outbreak, which can develop after a viral infection, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.

Some people also experience facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty with swallowing, or slurred speech.

"The way that it presents in children is with a pretty sudden weakness or paralysis of one or more of their limbs", he said Monday.

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