CDC: ‘Mystery Disease’ Sickening Kids In 22 States, Including New Jersey

18 October, 2018, 04:52 | Author: Otis Hoffman
  • Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

The Ohio Department of Health says it can not release information about suspected cases, or where the disease was reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of at least 62 confirmed cases in 22 states, according to officials.

CDC officials say some possible suspected causes, like polio and West Nile virus, have been ruled out. Since then, there have been more than 350 confirmed cases of the sickness.

Acute flacid myelitis or AFM is not new, but cases have been on the rise since 2014. Another spike came in 2016.

As CDC scientists search for the root cause of the mysterious ailment, the organisation has urged healthcare providers to be extra vigilant when dealing with patients displaying limb weakness and mobility issues.

"In most (AFM) cases, there appears to be what we call residual weakness, where the patient is unfortunately weak for a long period of time and may not recover or may not recover completely", said Dr. John Modlin, a Dartmouth College professor emeritus who is now the deputy director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's effort to eradicate polio. Despite extensive laboratory and other testing, CDC has not been able to find the cause for the majority of the cases. It attacks the spinal cord and nervous system and causes weakness or temporary paralysis in the arms and legs. Some also experience facial droop, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, or slurred speech.

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Other countries have reported AFM cases, but not the same seasonal pattern the United States has experienced. Ninety percent of those affected are children.

"Acute flaccid myelitis is a rare and potentially life-threatening disease that is affecting residents across the state", Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.

So far, the CDC has found no relationship between vaccines and children diagnosed with AFM from the 2014 cases. Sixty-two cases are confirmed. It is a rare, but serious condition - fewer than one in a million Americans will get AFM every year, the CDC estimates.

"Nobody really knows treatment protocols, they don't know prognosis, and they can't really give parents an answer as to where this is coming from", she said.

"So it is primarily a disease of the children", she said. Doctors at Children's have not seen an AFM patient needing a ventilator this year, but have treated such cases in the past, Benson said.

The following year, there were 22 confirmed cases in 17 states, and 2016 saw 149 cases in 39 jurisdictions, including D.C. In 2017 there were 33 confirmed cases in 16 states. It's a rare disease, but the CDC thought that they might glean more about the nature of the outbreak, as well as clues about how to contain it, by releasing a report to the public.

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