Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Polio-like illness affecting children across the country

Polio-like illness affecting children across the country

20, the CDC had confirmed 38 cases in 16 states, which aren't required to report AFM cases to the CDC.

Most of these cases began in August and September, and 90 percent are in children, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news conference today.

The condition causes muscle weakness, which can result in paralysis.

The department added it may take up to three weeks to confirm the diagnosis, and that AFM is extremely rare but can be very serious.

Beginning in the summer and fall of 2014, an apparent increase in reports of AFM occurred in the United States. "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

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Although it is too early to understand how the current season compares to previous ones, she noted, the nation is "on track with what was seen in 2014 and 2016" and will probably have the same number of cases.

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

"What parents have to know is if your child suddenly has a weak arm or leg, is not speaking properly, has a stiff neck or a wobbly neck - call the doctor immediately", pediatrician Dr. Laura Popper said. "Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now".

CNN did not have any reported cases in Missouri but our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at least one child had sought treatment at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Possible causes being considered include viruses that affect the digestive system called enteroviruses, and possibly strains of rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, she said.

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In some individuals, health officials have determined that the condition was from infection with a type of virus that causes severe respiratory illness.

Officials said they will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases.

The agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing this condition or the reasons they may be at higher risk. No pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid. But that bug - enterovirus D68 - could not be definitively linked to the illnesses.

The CDC says disease prevention steps should be followed, including staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and using mosquito repellant.

Kate Fowlie, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said in an email that many states are voluntarily reporting their data on the disease and that "many parents are coming forward to tell their stories".

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"Families really sticking with it are seeing slow but steady recovery", he said. But some state health departments have been making public their reported cases.

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