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Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, polio-like disease
13 October 2018, 02:47 | Randall Craig
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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.
Cases of a rare polio-like illness that are turning up across the country are also appearing here in North Texas.
The condition targets the spinal cord area that directly affects a person's muscles. According to the CDC, the largest number of cases, about 50, were reported in September 2014 before dropping to single digits in following months.
The CDC says symptoms of AFM include facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids or difficulty swallowing or slurred speech. Numbness or tingling is rare in people with AFM, although some people have pain in their arms or legs. This can require urgent ventilator support (breathing machine). State officials were unable to speak to that either, saying the investigational cases have been sent to the CDC.
All of the patients are "from northern IL", according to the health department, but no other location information was provided.
All of the cases are in patients younger than 18 and have been clinically diagnosed by health care providers, the statement said. It causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to weaken, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the Red River Valley, doctors have been looking out for the signs and symptoms since the disease first appeared in 2014.
AFM can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases, like transverse myelitis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
It resembles polio, but unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM. The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found. CDC specialists will make the final determination if these cases are AFM.
Oftentimes, despite extensive lab tests, the cause of a patient's AFM is not identified. There is no known cause or cure but it may be related to the virus that causes the common cold.
We do not know the long-term outcomes (prognosis) of people with AFM.
Doctors say the best way to prevent AFM is frequent handwashing and keeping children home and away from others when they are sick.
You can protect yourself and your children from poliovirus by getting vaccinated. As usual with treatment of transverse myelitis, treatment must be individualized.
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