Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

CDC: 'Mystery illness' leaving dozens of children paralyzed

CDC: 'Mystery illness' leaving dozens of children paralyzed

Asked about the discrepancy between the CDC's report of 22 states versus CNN's report of 30 states with cases, Messonnier said, "the 22 states that we're reporting are the states that have confirmed cases". Similar waves of the same illness occurred in 2014 and 2016. And though enteroviruses have been detected in some paralysis cases, it hasn't been found in others, CDC officials say.

20, the CDC had confirmed 38 cases in 16 states, which aren't required to report AFM cases to the CDC.

The CDC has not traced the virus to a specific germ, but the agency said it has a variety of causes including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders.

The cause of most of the AFM incidents is unknown, according to the CDC, as are the long-term effects.

That's up from 22 people who were said to have it in 2015.

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said. "Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now".

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The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said.

Lacking an established cause, health officials confirm cases through a review of brain scans and symptoms. Cases have been reported from the Twin Cities, central Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota.

There have been no confirmed cases of AFM in Maine this year, according to Emily Spencer, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine CDC.

The CDC will determine whether the suspected cases in Maryland are AFM based on clinical information and lab tests, a spokeswoman for the state health department said in an email. "As a parent myself, I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", she said. With the sudden onset of weakness, patients are "generally seeking medical care" and being evaluated by neurologists, infectious disease doctors and pediatricians. "This is a mystery so far, and we haven't solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly". Some who contract AFM will feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes.

The agency also said it will post case count updates on its website every week now, a change from the monthly updates it had been giving.

Parents can best protect their children from serious diseases by taking prevention steps, like washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines, and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites, she said.

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