Even with extensive lab testing, AFM is hard to diagnose, because it so similar to other conditions, including poliovirus, West Nile virus and adenoviruses, the CDC reports. Doctors have seen a slight increase in cases since August 2014, with many of them found in children. "It's incredibly heartbreaking to see this".
According to the CDC, there have been 362 confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis since 2014.
Symptoms include limb weakness, facial drooping, and trouble swallowing or speaking.
"This includes cases of meningitis, encephalitis, and acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) as well as children experiencing myoclonus (abnormal muscle jerking) and ataxia (loss of balance)". Less than one in a million people in the United States get AFM each year.
Minnesota officials have not yet identified a particular virus in the six cases there.
Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), which publishes CIDRAP News, said today on a WCCO radio show that so far there's no clear picture of what's causing the periodic rises in AFM cases, which has mostly occurred in children.
Quinton Hill is one of six cases of AFM in Minnesota reported since September 20.
During the 2014 national spike in AFM cases, Minnesota had three cases, and since then has averaged about one case per year.
AFM affects the spinal cord.
AFM is believed to be caused by viruses, notably the enterovirus D68. And, unlike the viral disease polio, AFM's more elusive cause means there is no vaccine. West Nile virus can also lead to the illness so taking steps to protect your family from mosquito bites, including using mosquito repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn when bites are more common, and removing standing or stagnant water near your home, can also help. Doctors stress that the early signs of AFM should be recognized and treatment should be started as soon as possible to prevent from severity of disease. This virus is transmitted from person to person and it can have severe effects of the brain and spinal cord of the system.
Five children in Western Washington are in the hospital with a mysterious polio-like illness that causes paralysis in arms and legs.