Rare, polio-like condition appears in US again

Rare, polio-like condition appears in US again

State health officials have issued an alert to doctors after six Minnesota children were diagnosed with a rare, polio-like disorder that causes reduced mobility or paralysis in the arms and legs.

Five children under 6 have been hospitalized with a sudden limb paralysis that has local, state and national health officials investigating whether it's a serious but rare condition called AFM.

The condition, which affects mainly children, attacks the nervous system, causing muscles to weaken.

All the children showed systems of a respiratory illness the week before developing symptoms of AFM. "Isolation protocols and infection control procedures are in place and we are working with the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department to further monitor and evaluate the patient conditions".

Nine cases of AFM were reported in Washington state in 2016.

Also see | What is acute flaccid myelitis, the mysterious polio-like disorder affecting kids? But shortly thereafter, unusual and frightening symptoms, such as limb weakness, face drooping and difficulty talking or swallowing, set in. Polio is the most significant disease caused by an enterovirus. AFM cases have been reported from across the state, including the Twin Cities, central Minnesota, and northeastern Minnesota.

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"It's very, very rare - it's about one in a million", said Kris Ehresmann with the Minnesota Department of Health.

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.

Mertz still recommends staying up to date on vaccinations and practicing good hygiene to prevent spreading germs. By the end of 2014, 120 people had been diagnosed in 34 states.

Messacar said it's important is for parents to seek immediate medical help if their child shows symptoms of weakness in the muscles of the face or throat. The viruses that are accounted to cause AFM may be contagious from one person to another or may be spread by a mosquito or other vector depending on which virus causes the AFM.

Diagnosis includes a brain and spine MRI and a spinal tap to test fluid. He added that the CDC is working hard on national and global fronts to look for a common cause.

However, he said it wouldn't be surprising to see an enterovirus fill an infectious disease niche left by polio, given that polio is also caused by an enterovirus.

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