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

BISMARCK, ND - The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is investigating a report of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in a North Dakota child.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took steps to warn about the symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) after doctors recorded a jump in cases this year.

Extremely. According to the CDC, there were 38 confirmed cases in 16 states this year through September 30.

The cases in 2014 and 2016 were partly attributed to particular strains of respiratory germs called enteroviruses, which spread the most in the summer and fall.

"We have not been able to identify a cause for the majority of these cases", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The increase in cases appeared to begin in 2014, when the CDC started tracking the illness. Another spike came in 2016. "At this time, the exact causes or source of this disease is unknown". Viruses that can cause the disease include poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses and West Nile virus. However, none of the US patients tested positive for polio, and, according to Dr. Messonnier, none of this year's cases have been linked to West Nile virus.

"A doctor can examine a patient's nervous system and the places on the body where he or she has weakness, poor muscle tone, and decreased reflexes. Children can also have trouble swallowing, trouble with their speech, facial droop, trouble with their eye muscles".

Other states with cases included Colorado, Illinois and Washington.

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Parents and caregivers across the country are growing concerned following recent reports of a mysterious, polio-like illness.

The number of confirmed cases has been on the rise since late 2014, when there were 120 confirmed cases from August to December in 34 states.

"So it is primarily a disease of the children", she said. Polio, while once widespread, has been largely eradicated due to the polio vaccine.

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said. It is a rare, but serious condition - fewer than one in a million Americans will get AFM every year, the CDC estimates.

CDC has tested many different specimens from patients with this condition for a wide variety of pathogens, or germs, that can cause AFM.

Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare".

The CDC is not saying how many states have patients under investigation, only that it's more than 22.

States are reporting their cases to the CDC, Messonnier said.

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