AFM attacks the patient's nervous system (and the spinal cord, in particular) resulting in extreme weakness of the arms and legs. A recent CNN report found that 30 states were investigating 47 confirmed cases and another 49 suspected cases. The average age of those diagnosed is 4 years old.
The first case of acute flaccid myelitis, a rare polio-like illness that can cause paralysis and mostly affects children, has been confirmed in Florida. The CDC estimatesfewer than 1 in a million Americans will get the disease.
Dr. Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, a neurologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, said that the mystery lies in whether the damage seen in AFM is caused by an external agent or the body's own defenses. The CDC has yet to figure out a common link between all the cases that have been reported, although they did note that several of them seem to have been linked to infections by other viruses, enterovirus D68.
The other case of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, occurred in August, and four others are under investigation in MA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says waves of the same illness occurred in 2014 and 2016, though researchers don't know the cause.
Although it's rare, the CDC recommends seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms or legs.
Geography also does not appear to be a factor, with the confirmed cases spread across 22 of the 50 U.S. states.
According to the CDC, the most severe cases of AFM can lead to respiratory failure and even death.
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Kelsey Gregory, a nurse practitioner with Premier Family Care in Harrison, said, "They are terming it as a polio-like virus, but none of the confirmed cases have been caused by the actual polio virus". Glatter said the long-term effects of AFM are unclear at this time.
CDC is not releasing a list of the 22 states with confirmed and suspected cases because of privacy issues.
The two cases this year were in the southern and southeastern parts of the state. "The hallmark is sudden onset of weakness in the arms or the legs".
Health officials urge parents to be vigilant, as there's a lot unknown about the syndrome and what causes it. He can hit them with an electric shock akin to touching a auto battery, he says, but they do not move.
Unfortunately, there is now no specific treatment plan for the disease, though medics may advise physical or occupational therapy on a case-by-case basis.
Adults can take preventative steps to protect children from illness as much as is possible - think: washing hands, using insect repellant, and staying up to date on vaccination programs.
Faircloth said she wants other parents to be aware.
"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child".