5th suspected case of rare muscle-weakening illness being investigated in MA

Mysterious 'polio-like' illness AFM is likely more widespread than reported experts say

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been 127 reported cases of the disease this year, and one child in the U.S. has died.

To improve research into AFM, Greenberg has called for mandatory reporting of the condition and centralized testing for infectious agents so researchers can better understand the full scope of the outbreak. So far, cases have been confirmed across 22 states.

The average age of patients confirmed to have the condition is just 4 years old, and more than 90% of cases overall occur in children 18 and younger, according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the agency's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) says there are 10 suspected cases of AFM in the state.

The condition affects the nervous system and affects fewer than 1 million people a year.

"CDC is actively investigating AFM cases and monitoring disease activity", the agency said.

"The way that it presents in children is with a pretty sudden weakness or paralysis of one or more of their limbs", he said Monday.

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"We don't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or the reasons why they may be at higher risk", she said. It causes sudden weakness in the arms or legs, facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing.

"We have [had] two patients we have treated in CHEO for [acute flaccid paralysis] since the summer", said Dr. Sunita Venkateswaran, a pediatric neurogologist with the children's hospital. But there are many enteroviruses, and they usually cause symptoms similar to the common cold, as do rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and many other viruses. The most severe symptom is breathing trouble. "What the physician will do is rule out other causes rule out other things that might be causing it".

Health officials say there are several potential causes of the condition, including certain viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.

Most of the AFM cases that the CDC has studied have no indication of any particular infection.

Messonnier said other viruses besides EV-D68 have been found in patients with AFM.

To date, however, according to the CDC, no pathogen or germ has been consistently detected in a patient's spinal fluid that indicates the cause of AFM. However, they want to stress how rare this condition is.

This is why the CDC's advice for preventing an infection that might lead to AFM is so general: wash your hands, and cover up and use repellent to prevent insect and tick bites.

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