As of August 2016, there have been 50 confirmed cases of AFM across 24 states, CDC reports
A mysterious polio-like disease that paralyzes children is on the rise in United States, according to the latest report of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Named Acute flaccid myelitis or AFM, it is a condition that affects the nervous system, especially the spinal cord which connects all parts of the body to the brain. And any damage to spinal cord can lead to paralysis.
CDC report suggests that as of August 2016, a total of 50 people mostly kids in 24 states across the country were confirmed to have AFM. That’s twice as much as last year, when 21 cases were reported throughout the year.
Researchers are unable to identify the exact reason of the surge. Though, they suspect that it could be linked to the strain of enterovirus that broke out in 2014.
“AFM is an illness that can be seen with a variety of different causes. The most famous one is polio, but there are also enteroviruses, which are circulating very broadly in the US and other countries.” Dr. Manisha Patel, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pediatrician said in a statement.
AFM is characterized by the sudden weakness in hands or legs. It can also lead to facial weakness, drooping of the eyes and difficulty in talking and swallowing.
Since 2014, researchers have followed 12 hospitalized AFM patients. A close inspection has enabled them to identify that all of them were actually suffering from AFM. Their condition improved over time but majority showed signs of disability.
“What we saw…is that the majority of the children had a fever and a respiratory illness. Five days later, they would develop pain in the arms and legs, and weakness followed,” said Dr. Kevin Messacar, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Children's Hospital Colorado.
“It's important to understand that there's a wide spectrum of severity of this disease.”