Minnesota health officials on the lookout for rare nervous system disorder

Minnesota: Acute flaccid myelitis cases investigated across state

Minnesota: Acute flaccid myelitis cases investigated across state

Six children in Minnesota have been detected with an exceptional "polio-like" bug since mid-September, state health officials said, all the latest cases were in kids below 10. She was later diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and has been undergoing treatment for a month at Chicago's Lurie Children's Hospital.

Quinton Hill, 7, spent two weeks in a hospital undergoing a range of tests, according to his parents, before he was finally diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM, a rare and serious condition that typically strikes children and affects the nervous system resulting in muscle and nerve weakness. "It's incredibly heartbreaking to see this".

AFM is not new, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported seeing an uptick in cases starting in 2014. In 2014, August, AFM first hit the US. Symptoms include sudden arm and leg weakness, drooping eyelids, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. Polio once caused regular epidemics until vaccination wiped it out across most of the world.

"The patients are now undergoing diagnostic procedures and treatments".

In 2016, there was a cluster of nine cases of AFM in Washington and there were three in 2017, according to the health department.

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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.

Since then, however, the Minnesota Department of Health said it has seen an AFM case about once a year.

"But it won't tell us what's causing the AFM, which virus, which process, that part we still don't know", Dr. Esper says. Still, the condition is extremely rare, with the CDC estimating that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year.

For example, a neurologist may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness. There's no vaccine against EV-D68 or EV-A71, so the same precautions apply as for any other infectious disease: people should wash their hands frequently, stay home when they are sick, cover coughs and sneezes and stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing. This virus is transmitted from person to person and it can have severe effects of the brain and spinal cord of the system.

Causes of AFM include viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders.

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