Mysterious paralyzing illness found among kids in 22 states, including Md

Mysterious paralyzing illness found among kids in 22 states, including Md

State and national health authorities are raising the alarm about a polio-like "mystery illness" that has left dozens of children with paralysis and other symptoms in MA and 21 other states. Despite extensive laboratory and other testing, CDC has been unable to find the cause for the majority of the cases. For example, 11 of the Colorado cases of AFM this year have tested positive for EV A71, a rare type of enterovirus not usually seen in the USA, rather in Asia and other parts of the world, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.

That's when we spoke with the families of 4-year-old Camdyn Carr, who's now fighting the disease, and 7-year-old Sebastian Bottomley, who previously fought AFM.

AFM is a condition in which the gray matter of the spinal cord becomes damaged, leading to muscle weakness and paralysis in one or multiple limbs.

Besides viruses, officials are also considering environmental toxins as a possible cause, but so far, they have no evidence that a particular toxin is behind the cases.

Among the concerns the CDC has are that the agency does not know the cause of AFM, why there has been an increase in cases since 2014, or the long-term effects of the illness. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

It was not immediately known if some of the reported cases across the country are in Virginia or the District. Symptoms include neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech. Some patients recover completely, while others continue to struggle with muscle weakness. Although it is too early to understand how the current season compares to previous ones, she noted, the nation is "on track with what was seen in 2014 and 2016" and will probably have the same number of cases. Then in 2016, there were 149 confirmed cases.

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM", Messonnier said during a teleconference for reporters. Also, she said there can be lags in reporting because of the time it takes to review a patient's clinical syndrome and radiographic findings. "Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now".

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Medical experts aren't sure what causes AFM, but it can occur as a result of a variety of viral illnesses including enteroviruses, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses.

Officials have not determined a cause of the rare disease.

The disease has been on the rise in the USA since 2014, but it remains rare. Officials will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases.

The CDC is investigating the outbreak. The disorder has been diagnosed in children who have received some of their recommended vaccinations and in unvaccinated children, she said.

But the agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk nor why they may be at higher risk.

The illness is called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM.

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