More Reports of Children Being Paralyzed by Mysterious Disease

"Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

The CDC is not sure why there was a rise in cases of AFM in 2014. In 2017, one person died of AFM.

Unfortunately, there's no specific treatment for AFM.

AFM can arise after an infection and affects the nervous system, according to health officials.

The disease is extremely rare, with the CDC estimating that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year. Yet, more than four years after health officials first recorded the most recent uptick in cases, much about the national outbreak remains a mystery.

AFM is now reported in 22 states across the US, federal health officials said.

"We're seeing enough kids get better that we can look parents in the eye and say, 'This is a horrific event, and we empathize with you, but the good news is with work we can show you kids who are walking and back in school, ' " said Dr. Greenberg. The CDC is also monitoring the spread of the disease and asks parents or guardians to seek medical attention immediately if their child begins to experience a sudden and dramatic weakness or loss of muscle tone in their limbs.

Some patients have recovered quickly and others have received on-going care.

Unlike for polio there is know vaccine for AFM
Camera Icon Unlike for polio there is know vaccine for

The two cases this year were in the southern and southeastern parts of the state. Officials said it's too early to know whether the total for 2018 will surpass those previous years.

"Then she woke up one day and said, 'Mommy, I can't walk, '" recalled Gary, of DeBary.

In an email Tuesday, Maryland Department of Health spokeswoman Brittany Fowler said the CDC will "make a determination about the status of the cases" in Maryland "based on clinical and laboratory information".

The agency does not know what causes the mystery disease, whose symptoms include drooping eyelids, facial weakness, slurred speech and in severe cases, respiratory failure. Other possible causes, the CDC says, could be the West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, and non-polio enteroviruses, which can develop into a serious condition for infants and those with compromised immune systems.

Health officials said AFM can start with cold-like symptoms, but that's no reason to rush over to the ER.

Since 2014 there have been almost 400 confirmed cases of AFM across the United States. "Our medical team has been reviewing vaccine records when available during this year's investigation and do not see a correlation", said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. Doctors at Children's have not seen an AFM patient needing a ventilator this year, but have treated such cases in the past, Benson said.

Patients are sometimes misdiagnosed with Transverse Myelitis or Guillain-Barre Syndrome and later diagnosed with AFM when they don't respond to standard treatments. But so far, no pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.

People can protect themselves from contracting AFM using methods similar to preventing getting the flu, Ellerin said.

  • Delores Daniels