Health Officials: 6 Kids Diagnosed With Rare Disorder That Affects Spinal Cord

12 October, 2018, 01:10 | Author: Angelica Greene
  • Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children

That suggests 2018 could be another year in which more cases are reported, said Dr. Kevin Messacar, an infectious disease physician at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Little is known about Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare disease that affects the nervous system.

"In very rare cases, it is possible that the process in the body that triggers AFM may also trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death", according to the CDC. The state usually sees just one case of the illness per year, which the Star-Tribune reports has health officials now issuing alerts to doctors statewide.

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"It is important to know that even though this is a rare condition and is being reported as a mystery illness, we really do understand much more about the causes of this disease", he said. "Isolation protocols and infection control procedures are in place and we're working with the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department to further monitor and evaluate the patient conditions".

AFM mainly affects children, for reasons which remain unclear. "CDC specialists will make the final determination if these cases are AFM".

Quinton has lost a lot of the strength in his left arm, along with some weakness in his legs and neck. Symptoms typically include sudden weakness in one or more arms or legs, along with loss of muscle tone and decreased or absent reflexes.

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"Oftentimes, despite extensive lab tests, the cause of a patient's AFM is not identified", the CDC says.

The mysterious illness that's paralyzing children is spreading across the United States, with cases popping up in both Chicago and Pittsburgh after initial reports from Minnesota. It is sometimes caused by a viral infection, although environmental factors and genetic disorders may also contribute to its development.

The CDC recommends people follow normal disease prevention steps to avoid AFM, including staying current on vaccines, washing hands and avoiding mosquito bites. These symptoms are similar to polio or the West Nile Virus. According to the CDC, the largest number of cases, about 50, were reported in September 2014 before dropping to single digits in following months. Doctors stress that the early signs of AFM should be recognized and treatment should be started as soon as possible to prevent from severity of disease. A clinical diagnosis, which was given in the state's six new cases, involves an MRI and a scan or a tap of the spine, which detects inflammation associated with AFM.

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"What we don't know is why these common cold symptoms, why in some individuals does it turn into AFM that's where the mystery lies", said Dr. Sinner.

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