Health Care

CDC: Rare polio-like disease is spreading

CDC: Rare polio-like disease is spreading”

AFM usually presents in just one side of the body, and tends to target the legs more so than the arms, he said. There are reports that some patients have needed breathing assistance. It caused an outbreak of 160 confirmed cases in the Lower Hudson Valley of NY in 2016, they reported."It looks like the new strains are better able to affect human motor neuron-like cells than older strains", said Tyler.It wasn't just the U.S.: European researchers reported 29 cases of EV-D68 infection in children and adults with acute flaccid myelitis in 2016.Tyler and colleagues infected mice with EV-D68 and showed it could affect the nervous system. That is roughly 50 percent more than have already been confirmed. Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky and OH each have one case.

Whether the paralysis is ongoing depends on the patient, the CDC stated, because some have recovered quickly while others required continued care.

"If we don't know what causes it, we don't know how to treat it", Dr. Vogel said. This condition is not new, but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new. "All of the cases of AFM diagnosed since 2014 have tested negative for polio".

Dr. John Christenson is a professor of clinical pediatrics at Riley's Children's Health in Indianapolis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has yet to determine a cause. It can also be caused by a number of different viruses, including non-polio enteroviruses or West Nile virus. The CDC says the cause could be a viral or triggered by an environmental toxin, or something else.

Christenson understands why parents are concerned and he says prevention is key.

Acute flaccid myelitis is a development of the EV-D68 virus, which can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, or no symptoms at all, according to a release from the state health department. "Everybody should have a flu shot", said Christenson. IDPH says most people with AFM see sudden limb weakness and a loss of muscle tone and reflexes.

"These 62 confirmed cases are among the total of 155 reports that CDC received of patients under investigation (PUIs)", the CDC said.

"Make sure you keep your children up to date on their vaccines", he said.

This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health.

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