Multiple cases of rare polio-like illness under investigation in North Carolina

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And for now, it's hard to say if 2018 will equal or surpass spikes seen in 2014 and 2016, Messonnier said, adding that state and federal health officials haven't finished the whole diagnostic algorithm for numerous cases reported over the past several weeks.

The agency has seen an increase in cases since August 2014.

The rare disease, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis. She said West Nile virus has not been linked to any of these cases, either. "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

In 2014, the initial reports of AFM coincided with an outbreak of infections from an enterovirus, EV-D68, that causes a respiratory illness, according to the CDC.

According to the CDC, there's been a mild uptick in the number of AFM cases in the country since 2014. More than 90% have been in children, and the average age is 4 years.

"However, if your child has asthma and has a cold, please make sure that your child is up on their asthma action plan and takes preventative asthma medications", said Dr. Jana Shaw, Upstate Golisano Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases.

There is no specific treatment for AFM. 'At this moment, we don't know if it's a virus that is coming and producing direct damage of the gray matter in the spinal cord, ' he said, 'or if a virus is triggering immunological responses that produce a secondary damage in the spinal cord.' It's not clear who is at risk.

The disease may be caused by an enterovirus or rhinovirus, but these viruses have been found only in a few patients, which does not explain the increased number of cases at the end of summer. A spokeswoman for hospital said they have notified the health department and are working with the CDC to learn more about the illness. Maryland's first case was reported September 21.

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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"As we work to better understand what's causing AFM, parents can help protect their children by washing your hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites", Messonnier said.

"While some patients have recovered rapidly, others have remain paralyzed and require a high level of ongoing care to support their breathing and monitor for neurological deterioration", he said.

Doctors diagnose AFM based on a combination of the patient's symptoms and an MRI scan.

In addition to the sudden onset of muscle weakness, the state public health department said slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty moving the eyes can also be experienced by patients.

Yes, there is one report of a child dying from AFM in 2017. In 2016, 22 across 17 states in 2015 and 120 across 34 states in 2014. So, most of the doctors are in confusion and they don't know the reason of this aggressive invasion of virus with the small kids only, and not others.

Ninety percent of patients are children. No pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.

"Early intervention is definitely always helpful". "You don't need an bad lot of paralyzed children to make this an important problem".

However, as of October this year has already recorded 127 cases in 22 States.

Washington Post writers Dana Hedgpeth and Justin Wm.

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