Polio-Like Disease AFM Is Affecting Kids Around the Country

- Add the Keystone State to the list of places now dealing with a mysterious polio-like illness that can partially paralyze children. Potential causes can be viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said. "They may have facial weakness, facial drooping, unable to speak, trouble swallowing", said Dr. Marcelo Malakooti. As limbs become weak, a patient might lose the ability to use their arms or legs.

She was later diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis and has been undergoing treatment for the last month at Lurie Children's Hospital.

The Washington Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm if the children have AFM. Treatment mainly boils down to alleviating those symptoms.

However, it can be hard to detect how patients actually get AFM.

"Most of the cases [of AFM] that CDC has learned about have been in children", the CDC writes on its website.

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

Indeed, there has been an uptick in cases of AFM across the country.

"The patients are now undergoing diagnostic procedures and treatment", said Andrea Kunicky, a spokeswoman for UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where the children are being treated.

There were two other suspected cases of AFM in the state earlier this year, according to Schultz.

This year alone - from January through September - there have been 38 confirmed cases in 16 different states, according to the agency. These states include California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

"Oftentimes, despite extensive lab tests, the cause of a patient's AFM is not identified", the CDC says.

However, a person can catch a virus from someone that leads to AFM.

The children, who are all under the age of 6, all reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM. The condition was first described in 2014 and doctors assumed a virus was to blame, but they didn't know which one.

The CDC recommends getting children vaccinated against the poliovirus, as well as protecting against bites from mosquitos (which carry the West Nile virus).



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