One confirmed case of polio-like virus in Ohio

Today, federal health officials expressed worry about an uptick in acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a mysterious and rare condition mostly affecting children.

Five children in Maryland have contracted symptoms of a virus similar to polio this fall, according to the state health department.

At least 65 more cases are under investigation, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Messonnier stressed that while she understands how frightening this situation is for parents, they should remember that the infections are, in fact, rare. Officials will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases.

Symptoms include arm and leg weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, in addition to facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.

There are now more than 125 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis - the "mystery illness" that's been affecting children across the U.S. and leaving them paralyzed.

The CDC is actively investigating the cases and working with healthcare providers as well as state and local health departments to spread the word about AFM.

According to yesterday's warning issued by the CDC, the disease could be linked to environmental toxins, genetic disorders or other viruses such as West Nile.




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

That's up from 22 people who were said to have it in 2015.

The CDC said it doesn't know how long symptoms of the disease will last for patients.

The CDC also does not yet know who may be at a higher risk for developing AFM or the long-term consequences of the condition. CDC has tested many different specimens from patients with this condition for a wide range of pathogens, or germs, that can cause AFM. She said the average age of AFM patients is 4.

Parents can best protect their children from serious diseases by taking prevention steps, such as washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites, Messonnier said.

"At this moment, we don't know if it's a virus that is coming and producing direct damage of the gray matter in the spinal cord", he said, "or if a virus is triggering immunological responses that produce a secondary damage in the spinal cord". "So we're very lucky that he had (physical therapy) through early intervention". She suspects that a host of factors play a role in the likelihood of getting AFM, but more cases must be reviewed in order to find an answer. Some children paralyzed by AFM have eventually regained their ability to walk, but need time. But some state health departments have been making public their reported cases.

States are reporting their cases to the CDC, Messonnier said.

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