Monday, 22 October, 2018

6 children diagnosed with ‘Polio-like’ paralyzing illness in Minnesota

Rare illness leaves 3-year-old boy paralyzed Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children
Delores Daniels | 09 October, 2018, 07:12

A "polio-like" illness for which there is no vaccine - acute flaccid myelitis - has struck in Minnesota, with six children diagnosed with the rare condition that can lead to paralysis and death.

Health officials in Minnesota are telling doctors to be on the lookout for a rare disorder called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. "Collecting information about suspected AFM cases is relatively new, and it is voluntary for most states to send this information to CDC". Symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms and legs, neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop, and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

However, there has been a national uptick in cases of AFM since 2014, with 362 cases recorded between 2014 and 2018, according to the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said as of Sep 30, there have been 38 cases reported from 16 states.

Parents who see AFM symptoms in their children, such as not using an arm, should contact health providers as soon as possible so that diagnostic tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cerebral spinal fluid testing can be done as soon as possible.

The Minnesota Department of Health said that six pediatric cases of AFM have been reported since mid-September. Two cases required treatment in the intensive care unit for respiratory support, and all cases involved children younger than 10 years old from the Twin Cities area or central and northeastern Minnesota. The severe form the disease can cause neurologic symptoms, including encephalitis and AFM. It can be a complication following a viral infection, but environmental and genetic factors may also be a cause.

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Minnesota officials said they typically see one case of AFM per year.

The illness may be rare but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 362 cases of acute flaccid myelitis in the USA between August 2014 through August 2018. By the end of that year, 120 people had been diagnosed in 34 states.

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