Mysterious illness that paralyzes healthy kids prompts plea from CDC

13-year-old boy recovering in a Denver hospital from a suspected case of human enterovirus 68 during a 2014 outbreak.

Enlarge / 13-year-old boy
recovering in a Denver hospital from a suspected case of human
enterovirus 68 during a 2014 outbreak. (credit:
Getty Cyrus McCrimmon
)

After a record number of cases in 2018 of a rare, puzzling
illness that causes paralysis in otherwise healthy kids, officials
at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging
doctors to hasten reporting and boost data collection before the
next big wave of illness hits
—which is expected in 2020.

The illness is called acute
flaccid myelitis, or AFM,
and is marked by the sudden onset of
limb weakness (usually upper limb), paralysis, and spinal lesions
seen on MRI scans. It most often occurs in children. It’s unclear
what causes it and why instances are increasing—though officials
suspect that a relative of poliovirus is involved. There is no
specific treatment, and doctors can’t predict how affected
patients will fare; some regain muscle strength and recover full
use of paralyzed limbs over time, some don’t. In rare cases, AFM
can cause respiratory failure and death.

AFM first gained attention in 2014, when health officials noted
a spike in the polio-like condition nationwide and began carefully
documenting cases. Since then, health officials have seen a
distinct every-other-year pattern to the illness.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Mysterious illness that paralyzes healthy kids prompts plea from CDC