The cause of AFM is unclear. It is important that tests are done as soon as possible after someone develops symptoms.
Doctors diagnose AFM based on a combination of the patient's symptoms and an MRI scan.
The Douglas County Health Department's Phil Rooney said, "This is not a diagnosis like flu or other diseases where you can do blood draw fluids". Some with AFM will feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes.
What's the prognosis for someone diagnosed with AFM?
While the virus has similarities with polio, Messonnier stressed that polio was not the cause of the disease.
A rare but devastating polio-like virus appears to have made itself at home in the United States, partially paralyzing hundreds of children. Ninety percent of those affected have been children.
"If you have this kind of illness that goes beyond the typical flu and you have this acute weakness, definitely we recommend that early on to present to the emergency department to be assessed for this possibility", says Dr. Ania.
"Getting vaccinated, taking precaution against mosquitoes, washing hands-all of these things are recommended by the CDC", said CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula.
"It attacked [my child's] body and her spinal cord a certain way that seems to be happening to other kids too", said Josh Payne, the parent of a child battling AFM. Of those cases 58 are 18 year old or younger. That suggests to him the disease can completely wipe out the nerves. There was one death of a child who had AFM, in 2017, said Messonnier. But treatments for the infection itself remain elusive. Minnesota has seen seven cases in children this year alone.
And even if a case can be narrowed down to a virus, there are multiple kinds of viruses it could be. But that bug - enterovirus D68 - could not be definitively linked to the illnesses. Polio, while once widespread, has been largely eradicated due to the polio vaccine. The Chinese have developed a vaccine against enterovirus A71, but it is not available in the USA, he adds.
So far, viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders are all possible causes for the spike. Similar waves of the same illness occurred in 2014 and 2016.
Some children with AFM recover completely, but others are disabled for years. A total of 62 cases across 22 states were confirmed by the CDC and more are under investigation.
CDC officials have not confirmed any specific cause of AFM, Messonnier said.
For 3-year-old Camden Stravers, what his parents thought was the common cold developed into something far worse.
"She couldn't hold herself up and everything". "So we can provide supportive therapy and make sure that there are no complications". "Let's not act like this is a surprise if this comes back in 2020, but let's be more prepared".
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