CDC investigating mysterious polio-like illness in New Hampshire

Posted October 20, 2018

There are now more than 125 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis - the "mystery illness" that's been affecting children across the USA and leaving them paralyzed. She announced the numbers in a Tuesday media briefing.

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) resembles polio in that it causes paralysis and mostly affects children, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ruled out polio as a potential cause, STAT reports.

"We know this can be frightening for parents, and I know many parents want to know what signs and symptoms they should be looking out for in their children", Messonnier said. Although the disease appears to target a certain age group, federal disease experts do not know who is likely to get acute flaccid myelitis. Then in 2016, there were 149 confirmed cases.

No cases of polio have originated in the U.S. since 1979, while in Australia, the last case of the disease caused by a locally acquired virus was in 1972. "There are a few viruses that can do this", she said.

You can protect against bites from mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus, by using mosquito repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn (when bites are more common), and removing standing or stagnant water near your home (where mosquitoes can breed). A research team led by Van Haren was the first to link acute flaccid myelitis with EV D68, back in 2015.

Boston Children's Hospital has evaluated all of the confirmed and suspected AFM cases that occurred in MA this year.

While AFM is incredibly rare, the current rate is less than one case for every 1 million Americans, Messonnier urged parents and health care providers to be on the lookout for symptoms. Samples from some patients revealed the presence of enteroviruses, but others had been infected with a rhinovirus.

The agency has not yet confirmed whether the New Hampshire patient, a juvenile from Rockingham County, contracted AFM or if it is another illness, said Jake Leon, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. "The hallmark is sudden onset of weakness in the arms or the legs".

Symptoms can include sudden limb weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial and eyelid drooping, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech and, in the most severe cases, difficulty breathing, according to the CDC.

The CDC is not sure why there was a rise in cases of AFM in 2014. Nor can they explain why only a handful of infected children developed AFM.

There's no way to determine which child will development AFM, according to Glatter.

"We are just learning about this illness ourselves". "Several of the kids did recover, but the majority of them still had permanent deficits a year out". Glatter said the long-term effects of AFM are unclear at this time. Officials will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases. Officials said some patients diagnosed with AFM recover quickly, while others need ongoing care.

To improve research into AFM, Dr. Greenberg has called for mandatory reporting of the condition and centralized testing for infectious agents so researchers can better understand the full scope of the outbreak.