Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Health Officials: 6 Kids Diagnosed With Rare Disorder That Affects Spinal Cord

Polio Stats NBC News
Celia Hoffman | 08 October, 2018, 23:04

A "polio-like" illness for which there is no vaccine - acute flaccid myelitis - has struck in Minnesota, with six children diagnosed with the rare condition that can lead to paralysis and death.

The illness, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), affects the nervous system and causes muscles to weaken, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which is now investigating the six cases that have occurred since mid-September. The state usually sees just one case of the illness per year, which the Star-Tribune reports has health officials now issuing alerts to doctors statewide.

AFM appears to mainly affect children, and all of the cases in Minnesota have occurred in children under 10, the MDH said in an October 5 statement. It can arise from a viral infection but environmental and genetic factors could also cause the illness to develop.

Most affected by the disorder have a sudden onset of arm or leg weakness, as well as a loss of muscle tone and reflexes to the affected limb. There are no known treatments, and 38 cases have been confirmed in the USA this year.

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AFM cases first spiked in the United States in August 2014.

Other symptoms include neck weakness, drooping eyelids and slurred speech, according to the state department.

The CDC estimates that fewer than one in a million people will get the rare condition each year.

According to the department, there was a national uptick in these cases in 2014 that investigators believe was linked to an outbreak of a respiratory illness in children caused by an enterovirus.

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