Health Care

Health officials: 3 cases of rare polio-like disease in Georgia

Health officials: 3 cases of rare polio-like disease in Georgia

Officials said three cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported in North Carolina this year - two probable and one confirmed.

AFM affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing arms and legs to suddenly grow weak, sometimes leading to paralysis, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2014, the CDC determined that the AFM cases in 2014 occurred during a national outbreak of children with enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), according to Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC.

There is now no cure for AFM, known cause in most cases, or clear explanation for why some people who contract the enterovirus experience symptoms and others do not.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Children can also have trouble swallowing, trouble with their speech, facial droop, trouble with their eye muscles". So far this year, there have been 62 confirmed cases in 22 states. Authorities say they are still awaiting confirmed lab results from the CDC. Because AFM is so rare and has several potential causes, it would be hard for a company to make money on a vaccine, Messacar says. But the long-term effects are still unknown.

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The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said.

AFM may be caused by other viruses, including enterovirus, environmental toxins and a condition in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys tissue that it mistakes for foreign material, Messonnier said: "This is a mystery so far, and we haven't solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly".

"The majority of these patients are left with extensive problems", said Pardo-Villamizar, who was not involved in the study.

"That's pretty terrifying. It is terrifying if you are a parent", Kerkering said.

In 2014 the CDC said there was a spike in the AFM virus, with 120 people afflicted with it from August to December of that year in 34 states. Messonnier said West Nile virus, which had been listed as a possible cause on CDC's website, is also not causing the illnesses.

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Acute flacid myelitis or AFM is not new, but cases have been on the rise since 2014.

Although the disease appears to target a certain age group, federal disease experts do not know who is likely to get acute flaccid myelitis.

Messonnier stressed that while she understands how frightening this situation is for parents, they should remember that the infections are, in fact, rare. Doctors may also recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness.

"We know this can be frightening for parents", said Dr. NancyMessonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. There was one confirmed death past year, the CDC said on Tuesday.

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