Health officials: Oklahoma child diagnosed with rare polio-like illness

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

Two cases of the disease - acute flaccid myelitis - have been confirmed in MA with another four cases under investigation.

According to the Center for Disease Control, AFM "affects the nervous system, specifically the area of spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak".

The mysterious increase in cases of AFM, as it's called, was first spotted in the late summer and autumn of 2014. It affects mostly children. "Children can also have trouble swallowing, trouble with their speech, facial droop, trouble with their eye muscles". Scientists are investigating a number of causes, including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said on its website.

So far, AFM has affected fewer than one in a million people in the United States each year.

The Minnesota Department of Health says a seventh child has been struck by a rare, paralyzing illness that has been reported across the country.

"I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The long-term effects are not known, and outcomes have been different for patients, with some recovering quickly and others having lasting paralysis and requiring ongoing care.

Although symptoms resemble polio, no evidence of poliovirus has been found in specimens from any case diagnosed so far, Messonnier said.

While some research has suggested in the past that that EV-D68, an enterovirus from the same family as polio, might be responsible for AFM, Fauci discounted that conclusion.

USA health officials on Tuesday reported a jump in cases of AFM. We actually don't know what is causing this increase.

More than 90 percent of the cases are in children 18 years and younger. There have now been a total of 386 confirmed cases since 2014.

Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare".

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"Despite extensive laboratory testing, we have not determined what pathogen or immune response caused the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients", she said.

On a Facebook page dedicated to the disease, one parent posted that her daughter was diagnosed with AFM four years ago after catching enterovirus.

Because the disease attacks the spinal cord, Fauci said that a spinal tap - when a needle extracts cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal canal - is how researchers are looking for potential causes of AFM.

There is no specific treatment for AFM.

Other states with cases included Colorado, Illinois and Washington.

Experts say the early symptoms of the disease include arm or leg weakness, and loss of muscle tone.

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