State health officials investigating 5th suspected case of polio-like disease

Acute Flaccid Myelitis

A rare polio-like illness called Acute Flaccid Myelitis is being seen in children across the U.S. and now in Canada

There have been two confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, in MA this year.

Sixteen children have been diagnosed with the illness in MA since 2014, and last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 62 cases in 22 states this year. CDC has been actively investigating AFM and continues to receive information about suspected AFM cases. There are five suspected cases that have not been confirmed. In addition, 120 cases were confirmed in 2014 between August and December. "It causes fever illnesses in the summer and fall, often associated with rashes".

But officials aren't sure why exactly the condition started showing up around the country in 2014 and why it's continuing. The CDC has confirmed a total of 386 cases of AFM have occurred across the U.S. from August 2014 through September 2018, mostly among children.

The condition can be caused by polio, the West Nile virus, and other viruses, officials believe. In 2017, one child who had AFM died, CDC said.

The rare disease affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis, mainly in children.

"We know this can be frightening for parent", said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, during a telephone briefing to reporters last week.

Although the symptoms of AFM have been described as "polio-like", polio has been ruled out as a cause in the USA cases, CDC said in a press conference.

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"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child", she said during a CDC telebriefing. They've been seeing an increase in cases since 2014.

Messonnier suggested seeking medical attention right away if you or your child develops symptoms of AFM, such as "sudden weakness and loss of muscle tone" in arms or legs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 62 cases of a polio-like illness that causes weakness in the legs and arms. When it infects pregnant women, the Zika virus can go into the brains of the developing fetuses and cause permanent damage. The cause of the illness is not known; it causes sudden onset of muscle weakness and even paralysis.

The best prevention is getting the polio vaccination, which helps protect against the polio virus.

To date, however, according to the CDC, no pathogen or germ has been consistently detected in a patient's spinal fluid that indicates the cause of AFM.

The first case of the illness, for which there is no specific treatment or cure, was confirmed in MA in August, according the department.

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