Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Polio-Like Symptoms Hallmark of Illness Striking Children

Update: there is now a ninth child in Washington state who has been hospitalized with this condition.

end of update

Not sure if this story is widely known but eight Washington state children have come down with polio-like symptoms and one died yesterday in Bellingham.  Three children are from Seattle and one of those is still in the hospital.
From the Herald Net:
Medical officials suspect the children have a condition known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which affects the nervous system and specifically the spinal cord. The Washington cases have not been confirmed as AFM, but are being investigated as such.

All eight children ranging in age from 3 to 14 had a loss of strength or movement in one or more arms or legs with a range of types and severity of symptoms.  Doctors said the syndrome is not contagious.
From the CDC:
  • Even with an increase in cases in 2016, AFM remains a very rare disease (less than one in a million).
  • While the AFM case count for 2016 is less than the 2014 case count, CDC is concerned about the increase in cases in recent months.
  • It's always important to practice disease prevention steps, like washing your hands, staying up-to-date on vaccines, and protecting yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Most patients are children.
From CNN:
Like polio, AFM affects the body's nervous system -- specifically, the spinal cord -- and can cause paralysis. 

Unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM. 

"This is a very rare condition, but I think it's important that we take it seriously because it does have long-term and potentially disabling consequences," said Dr. Kevin Messacar, a pediatric infectious disease physician and researcher at Children's Hospital Colorado.

"The key with AFM is that it's sudden onset," said Dr. Manisha Patel, AFM team lead at CDC and a practicing pediatrician. "Symptoms include limb weakness, facial drooping and difficulty swallowing and talking.

"It's important to understand that there's a wide spectrum of severity of this disease," said Messacar. On one end, you see mild weakness in one extremity, he said. On the other, you've got children who have lost the ability to breathe on their own, and exhibit complete paralysis in their arms and legs.

There is no cure for AFM. Treatment only focuses on alleviating symptoms.

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