7th Case of Rare Disease Diagnosed

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The Centers for Disease Control confirmed 62 cases of AFM across 22 states, but would not identify the states. Seven children have been affected in that state. "But the appearance of the AFM symptoms is actually very rare".

Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is a condition that affects the nervous system, particularly the spinal cord. Sixty-two cases of the rare but serious condition have now been confirmed in 22 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. That pattern appears to be repeating this year.

Since officials have been unable so far to determine how the disease spreads, they are starting to count suspected cases as well as confirmed to better anticipate increases over the coming months.

"You see your child, who likes to run and play", she said. It takes quite a bit of time to even diagnose.

Other symptoms of AFM include facial droop, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness. CDC has tested many different specimens from patients with this condition for a wide range of pathogens, or germs, that can cause AFM.

Acute flacid myelitis or AFM is not new, but cases have been on the rise since 2014. It's also unclear why the illness seems to peak in the late summer and fall.

"This is truly a mystery disease".

CDC officials say they haven't found the cause. No one finding can explain all the cases, she said. Polio, while once widespread, has been largely eradicated due to the polio vaccine.

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In research developments, a team based at the J. Craig Venter Institute conducted experiments to see if a specific EV-D68 genotype is linked to neurologic symptoms and found that some viruses from the 2014 outbreak can infect neuronal cells. There was one death of a child who had AFM, in 2017, said Messonnier. There is no known treatment other than physical therapy.

"Early intervention is definitely always helpful".

"Treatment options are quite limited", he said.

Some patients recover quickly, while others experience paralysis and require ongoing care.

"Overall, the rate of AFM over the years that it has been diagnosed which is since 2014 is less than one in a million."
He suffered paralysis and had to be put on a ventilator.

Experts don't know the long-term effects of the disease.

"Families really sticking with it are seeing slow but steady recovery", he said. Once damaged, such nerves don't regenerate.

People can protect themselves from contracting AFM using methods similar to preventing getting the flu, Ellerin said.

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