An unknown illness that resembled polio began making its way through children in the United States just last month. The CDC initially issued a warning to parents about an illness called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, which is a paralyzing illness that causes symptoms related to polio, primarily in children.
At the time of the initial warning, children across 22 states had been affected, which has now rapidly increased in number. The average age for those affected is only 4 years old. The CDC has officially created an AFM Task Force to help determine a cause and treatment for the condition, which was not entirely known at the time of the warning.
We first reported on this case in October 2018 with 127 unconfirmed reports of infected children with the illness. As of the latest report, the CDC confirms that an additional 170 cases remain unconfirmed and are under investigation. The CDC can now officially announce that 116 cases of AFM have been confirmed in 2018.
The first tell-tale signs of a possible AFM illness include mild respiratory illness or fever with a viral infection. The CDC has urged parents to be the lookout for any of these symptoms in their children.
CDC’s #AFM Task Force will ensure that the full capacity of the scientific community is engaged and working together to provide important answers and solutions to detect, more effectively treat, and ultimately prevent AFM and its consequences. https://t.co/5u8FM2Hg8o
— Dr. Robert R. Redfield (@CDCDirector) November 20, 2018
CDC Director Robert R. Redfield has spoken on the AFM Task Force that is being established and is hopeful to find treatment options.
“I want to reaffirm to parents, patients, and our Nation CDC’s commitment to this serious medical condition,” he said, “This Task Force will ensure that the full capacity of the scientific community is engaged and working together to provide important answers and solutions to actively detect, more effectively treat, and ultimately prevent AFM and its consequences.”
While Colorado and Texas are among some of the states with the highest rates of AFM (15 and 14 respectively) these aren’t the highest numbers ever reported from AFM.
There were 149 confirmed cases of AFM in 39 states in 2016. Within the last five months of 2014, there were 120 confirmed cases across 34 states. 1 child died in 2017. It appears from statistics that the number of AFM cases rises each year, prompting a need for some sort of vaccine or treatment.
The initial cause for concern about the polio-like illness was due to the lack of information about AFM including what exactly causes it. The hope is that the AFM Task Force will be able to identify both a cause and treatment options for those affected by this awful illness.
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