Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, paralyzing disorder

Kenny Tucker
October 11, 2018

The disease can develop from a viral infection and impacts the nervous system by traveling through the spinal cord, but its cause is unknown.

Health officials are asking doctors to be on the lookout for children with a rare, polio-like illness after six cases were reported in Minnesota since September 20th.

And in 2018 alone, 38 new cases of AFM in 16 states across the country were confirmed by the CDC. CDC has been actively investigating these AFM cases, and we continue to receive information about suspected AFM cases. She also requested the agency answer seven questions about its response efforts by October 16 and conduct a member-level briefing for senators seeking more information on the issue. "I urge the CDC to provide more information immediately about preventive measures and treatments".

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is an exceptional but deliberate neurologic disease of immediate outbreak, usually in children. Polio once caused regular epidemics until vaccination wiped it out across most of the world.

Health officials said that a single cause of AFM has not been found and often no cause is found.

Even with an increase in cases since 2014, AFM remains a very rare condition. By the end of that year, 120 people had been diagnosed in 34 states. It caused some paralysis in his arm and put him in the hospital.

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The other viruses such as EV-D68 and EV-A71 cause much milder disease or no symptoms at all.

None of those cases are in Olmsted County, but it's still a concern across the state. Symptoms can include limb weakness, facial drooping, and trouble swallowing or speaking.

One victim, 5-year-old Carter Roberts of Chesterfield, Virginia, died last month after developing AFM in 2016.

"It starts off with a cold, cough, runny nose, congestion and then before you know it, you have weakness and paralysis of your arms and your legs", Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, a family physician, told ABC News.

"It's always important to practice disease prevention steps, such as staying up-to-date on vaccines, washing your hands, and protecting yourself from mosquito bites", the CDC said on a page devoted to AFM. A doctor can also do an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to look at a patient's brain and spinal cord, do lab tests on the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the brain and spinal cord) and may check nerve conduction (impulse sent along a nerve fiber) and response.

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