CDC: Rare polio-like disease is spreading

Acute Flaccid Myelitis which causes paralysis has been reported in several children's hospitals in Eastern Canada

Acute Flaccid Myelitis which causes paralysis has been reported in several children's hospitals in Eastern Canada

State health officials say four cases of a rare, mysterious illness that can paralyze children have been confirmed in OH amid a jump in such cases nationally.

The disease is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

"The way that it presents in children is with a pretty sudden weakness or paralysis of one or more of their limbs", he said Monday.

A spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada said there have been 25 probable and five confirmed cases of sudden-onset muscle weakness in children reported in the country this year, but current surveillance data have not picked up any recent surge in cases.

Venkateswaran said that in 2014 there were a number of cases across Canada, but the disease stopped spreading in the fall.

The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is also reporting cases of the disease. The CDC says that 28 new cases of AFM surfaced last week. Some possible suspects, such as polio and West Nile virus, have been ruled out.

"I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said last Tuesday.

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The average age of the US patients this year is four, and doctors in Canada are reporting a similar pattern.

The CDC confirmed 22 cases in 2015, 149 cases in 2016 and 33 cases in 2017, although the exact cause of the condition, and who is at higher risk for developing AFM and why have not been confirmed. We don't fully understand the long-term consequences of AFM.

It's unknown whether the paralysis will get better or remain the same.

Though there's very little known about the illness, doctors have determined it's not polio, despite the similar symptoms.

Viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders may play a role, CDC noted.

AFM is quite rare, but parents should be aware of the signs, CDC said. It's characterized by sudden, asymmetric weakness in the arms or legs.

If a child "develops weakness of a limb, especially in the context of cold-like symptoms or other viral symptoms, they should see their health-care provider immediately", Toronto's Friedman told CBC.

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