Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Cases of rare polio-like illness affecting children reported in 16 states

Cases of rare polio-like illness affecting children reported in 16 states

Most of the cases that CDC has learned about have been in children.

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. The children are residents of King County (2), Pierce County (1), Lewis County (1), and Snohomish County (1) - the additional case is from Skagit County.

The CDC estimates that less than a million people will get AFM every year in the United States.

AFM is a weakening of the nerves that causes partial paralysis in children.

AFM has been around for a while, but the CDC notes that there have been increases in the number of cases reported starting in 2014.

For example, in Minnesota, cases of AFM were generally stagnant at about one case per year, but now six children have been confirmed to have AFM in 2018 alone. Four of the five had a fever of 100.4 or higher. It's possible that AFM has a variety of causes, including viruses (such as poliovirus and enteroviruses), environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC says.

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"It is sudden onset of weakness in an arm, leg, face or the muscles that help us swallow and we use to speak", Dr. Amaran Moodley told ABC News. The condition affects the gray matter area of the spinal cord and causes weakness in the body's muscles and reflexes.

"I just felt so sad for him, that this thing we didn't know about and couldn't protect him from had happened and had taken a lot away from him", Michael Young said.

Experts say good hygiene and making sure little ones are washing their hands are one way to prevent spreading viruses and germs. Some people with AFM may be unable to urinate.

Nine cases were reported in Washington in 2016.

"The CDC has acknowledged that 362 cases of AFM have been reported since 2014, indicating an increasing infection rate", Klobuchar wrote in the letter.

In 2017, 33 cases were reported in 16 states. However, it recommends practicing disease prevention measures, including staying up-to-date on vaccines and protecting yourself from mosquito bites.

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