CDC: 62 cases confirmed in 22 states of rare paralyzing illness in children

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The CDC reports today (Oct. 16th, 2018) that 62 confirmed cases of a rare paralyzing illness in children have been reported in 22 states so far in 2018. Health officials say it seems to be following an every-other-year pattern. The CDC saw waves of similar illnesses in 2014 and 2016.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the condition is not new, but the increase in AFM cases they saw starting in 2014 is new. The CDC estimates that less than one in a million people in the United states will get AFM, or Acute flaccid myelitis, every year. They’ve been working closely with healthcare providers and state and local health departments to increase awareness for AFM.

Officials say AFM is a serious condition that causes weakness in the arms or legs. “Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare condition. It affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs. AFM or neurologic conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders,” according the CDC website.

From August 2014 through September 2018, the CDC has received information on more than 380 confirmed cases of AFM across the U.S. They say most of those cases have occurred in children.

The CDC does not know the cause of most of the AFM cases, so they’ve been confirming cases through a review of brain scans and symptoms. There are a variety of possible causes of AFM, such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.

Health officials say it’s important to practice disease prevention steps, such as staying up-to-date on vaccines, washing your hands and protecting yourself from mosquito bites. Learn more here.

The CDC has not released a list of the states reporting probable or confirmed cases due to privacy issues. The CDC says the cases this year seem to be spread across much of the country, as were the earlier two waves.