Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

USA doctors baffled as rare spinal disease spreads across 22 states

USA doctors baffled as rare spinal disease spreads across 22 states

The incidences, 62 of which are confirmed, are spread across 22 states.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is warning about a rare mysterious illness affecting American children, which can cause "polio-like" symptoms.

Health officials do not know what's causing the increasing number of cases of AFM.

So far, the only detail being released about the patient is that he or she is an Oklahoma resident under 18-years-old.

Neurological conditions like it have a variety of causes, such as viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders. The study was published in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

The first cases of AFM coincided with an unusually severe outbreak of a common virus that affects the lungs or gut. Tyler thinks the virus, called enterovirus D68, has changed since it was first identified in 1962, becoming more risky.

"[There's] nothing that provides the unifying diagnosis that we'd expect to explain these peaks of disease", Messonnier said.

There's no vaccine that can protect against AFM-causing enteroviruses. Viruses that can cause the disease include poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses and West Nile virus.

Minnesota's state epidemiologist, Jayne Griffith, said parents should watch their children for signs of the illness.

"However, the CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every child with confirmed AFM", he told Healthline in an email.

There is no known cause or treatment, a state Department of Public Health advisory said.

The good news is that the complication is "incredibly rare", Messonnier said.

"Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now", Messonnier said.

"What is alarming and frightening is they suddenly develop weakness, and typically it's in an arm or leg. and it comes out of the blue.and that weakness comes and often times it's persists", Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

However, officials have not been able to identify the cause of most of the AFM cases, or the reason for the spikes in 2014, 2016 and now 2018.

Although the disease appears to target a certain age group, federal disease experts do not know who is likely to get acute flaccid myelitis. Some merely have difficulty moving the eye or the face; some have a single weakening limb. 90 percent of those have been in children.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, according to the CDC, although neurologists might recommend things like physical therapy to help treat muscle weakness on a case-by-case basis.

While the CDC has yet to confirm a case in Virginia, Hoff said her son Camdyn was diagnosed with AFM while hospitalized at UVA Medical Center, falling ill with the telltale symptoms.

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