Spike reported nationwide in cases of baffling paralysis in children

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

So far this year, 127 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - a significant increase over 2017 and a worrying perpetuation of a disease for which there is little understanding. The CDC has been monitoring an increase in cases since 2014 and on Tuesday reported that it has confirmed 386 instances of AFM across the country over the last four years, majority involving children.

The disease is marked by a sudden onset of weakness and loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs caused by an attack on the nervous system and spinal cord.

Doctors say that most of the reported cases of AFM involve those under the age of 18.

Other countries have reported AFM cases, but not the same seasonal pattern the United States has experienced. AFM could experience a similar fate before it ever becomes a major emergency, if a virus can be identified. Symptoms include neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

The Douglas County Health Department's Phil Rooney said, "This is not a diagnosis like flu or other diseases where you can do blood draw fluids".

"Despite extensive laboratory testing, we have not determined what pathogen or immune response caused the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients", she said. There were 120 confirmed cases in 2014 and 149 two years later.

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There are no known cases of the illness in either Virginia or D.C., according to area health officials.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which releases only confirmed numbers, says 16 states had 38 cases as of September 30. "Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now". Messonnier added that health officials are considering other potential causes, such as West Nile virus and environmental toxins, though none of the cases have involved them.

"Many times it can start with what looks like a respiratory illness, a little bit of a fever", Narula said.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for AFM, though the CDC says neurologists may suggest options on a case-by-case basis. Another kind of virus is suspected, but it's been found in only some of the cases.

Now 3 years old, Hunter has slowly recovered. But some state health departments have been making public their reported cases.

That's when we spoke with the families of 4-year-old Camdyn Carr, who's now fighting the disease, and 7-year-old Sebastian Bottomley, who previously fought AFM.

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