The condition can sometimes come on as a complication after a viral infection, or after a respiratory illness.
Cases of the "polio-like" illness acute flaccid myelitis are surfacing among more children across the USA, with reports of the condition that can lead to paralysis and death coming in from several states over the last few days. The Minnesota cases have all involved kids 10 years old or younger, health officials said.
Health experts say the disease can lead to paralysis and even death. For one Minneapolis boy, the toddler began to have trouble moving as he recovered from a cold. His parents, Elaine and Michael Young, said that he developed a fever in July and afterwards started to lose mobility in his right arm.
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is an exceptional but deliberate neurologic disease of immediate outbreak, usually in children. It is important that the tests are done as soon as possible after the patient develops symptoms.
"At this point there isn't evidence that would point to a single source of illness among these cases", said Dr. Scott Lindquist, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the Department of Health. To date, no pathogen (germ) has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid; a pathogen detected in the spinal fluid would be good evidence to indicate the cause of AFM since this condition affects the spinal cord.
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Symptoms of A-F-M include sudden weakness in an arm or leg, and loss of muscular reflexes. Ehresmann said, "If you have a child that is having these kinds of symptoms, they should be seen, evaluated, immediately". After treatment, the child was able to regain most of his muscle function, expect in his right arm, and is now in therapy, facing possible surgery. They don't know if he'll be able to move it again.
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"He's remarkably, like, able to wrap his head around this as it's going on. He's kind of like, one day at a time, whereas we're anxious about the whole rest of his life". However, he continues to be in therapy and faces possible surgery in the future.
The reported IL cases are preliminary diagnoses and only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control can confirm the diagnosis, according to Arnold.
While the Department of Health said there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, people can take steps to reduce their risks from some known causes with frequent and thorough hand-washing, avoiding close contact with sick people, and cleaning surfaces with a disinfectant, especially those that a sick person has touched.