Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Medical | By

Minnesota kids suffer rare, polio-like disorder

Minnesota kids suffer rare, polio-like disorder

Minnesota saw three cases that year and typically sees less than one case per year.

Since mid-September, six children under the age of 10 were hospitalized and diagnosed with AFM in Minnesota.

The MDH has contacted doctors in the area to be on the lookout for similar cases, as local disease investigators are working aggressively to gather more information. AFM or neurologic conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., urged the CDC to investigate the national uptick of acute flaccid myelitis infections among children in an October 9 letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD.

Currently, little is known about how AMF develops and there are no specific treatments.

Symptoms include arm or leg weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids and difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.

Treatment focuses only on alleviating symptoms.

"The increase in AFM cases in 2014 coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among people caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)", the CDC notes on its website.

The disease is not new, but there was an uptick in cases starting in 2014, the CDC says.

Nationwide, a total of 38 people in 16 states were found by the CDC to have confirmed cases of AFM between January and September this year.

AFM is thought to happen after someone contracts a virus, like poliovirus, West Nile virus, or adenovirus, the CDC says.

"It is important to know that even though this is a rare condition and is being reported as a mystery illness, we really do understand much more about the causes of this disease", he said.

Concern is growing over mysterious outbreaks of a rare polio-like condition in children. "While we don't know if it is effective in preventing AFM, washing your hands often with soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to other people".

"If a parent notices a child with a weak or paralyzed limb, they should go to urgent care or the hospital immediately", said Julie Graham, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health. West Nile virus can also lead to the illness so taking steps to protect your family from mosquito bites, including using mosquito repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn when bites are more common, and removing standing or stagnant water near your home, can also help.

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