Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Medical | By

Rare 'polio-like' disease reported in Minnesota and Colorado

Rare 'polio-like' disease reported in Minnesota and Colorado

It's called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM, and it has left health officials puzzled. Four of the five had fever of 100.4 F or greater.

In Washington, all of the patients suspected of having AFM are under age 6 and all had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week before developing symptoms of AFM, the Department of Health reported on Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they have information on more than 300 cases dating back to then across the country.

The CDC's website explains, "A doctor can tell the difference between AFM and other diseases with a careful examination of the nervous system, looking at the location of the weakness, muscle tone and reflexes". "We're working closely with medical providers and public-health agencies".

"Of the AFM cases, 11 tested positive for enterovirus A71, one tested positive for enterovirus D68, and two tested negative for enteroviruses", the department said in an online statement Tuesday.

According to the Washington State Dept. of Public Health, "Some viruses and germs have been linked to AFM, including common germs that can cause colds and sore throats, and respiratory infections".

Doctors say the best way to prevent AFM is frequent handwashing and keeping children home and away from others when they are sick.

AFM has been around for a while, but the CDC notes that there have been increases in the number of cases reported starting in 2014.

AFM typically affects young children and creates polio-like symptoms. "This is certainly the largest outbreak of enterovirus A71 we've seen in Colorado". "That enterovirus is transmittable from person to person, but you can't actually catch AFM from somebody else".

In 2016 there was a cluster of nine cases of AFM in Washington state.

Olga said she is not sure if Zoe is included in the six cases under investigation. This year along, there were 38 people diagnosed with AFM across 16 states. Among the viruses that can cause AFM are West Nile virus and poliovirus. "A person's arms and legs can become weak or paralyzed depending on the area of the spinal cord that is inflamed". Practices such as regular hand-washing are recommended. All of the cases have been reported on the west side of the state with two children in King County and one child in Pierce County, Lewis County and Snohomish County.

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