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article imagePolio-like illness confirmed in eight Washington state children

By Karen Graham     Nov 6, 2016 in Health
Seattle - Eight of nine children exhibiting symptoms of a mysterious polio-like illness have been confirmed to have acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), the Washington State Department of Health announced on Friday.
Acute flaccid myelitis is a condition that affects the nervous system, primarily the spinal cord. AFM can occur as a result from a variety of causes, including viral infections, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Washington State Health Department announced their results after an analysis of blood, stool and respiratory samples by the CDC. A ninth child, six-year-old Daniel Ramirez, who died last Sunday, did not have the disease, reports CNN.
Daniel's parents, Marijo De Guzman and Jose Ramirez, told CNN affiliate KOMO they took their son to the hospital because he seemed to have a cold and was complaining of being dizzy. The parents say that within a matter of hours, Daniel was paralyzed and never recovered.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, who serves as state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. said "There has been no confirmed infection or any obvious commonalities among these eight children. We are in the process of doing an in-depth interview with these children and their families to look at what they ate, any medications... to see if there are any clues to how they got the disease."
Five of the eight children, who range in age from three to 14 years, have been sent home say health officials. Three children are still being treated at Seattle Children's Hospital.
CDC very concerned with rise in AFM cases
On November 1, the CDC released the national AFM case count from September, which showed a sharp increase in the number of confirmed cases of AFM this year. From January 1 to September 30, 89 people in 33 states were diagnosed with AFM, 37 of them in September.
But the CDC points out that even with an increase in cases in 2016, AFM remains a very rare disease (less than one in a million). The CDC also notes that while the number of cases in 2017 is less than the 2014 case count, they are very concerned by the sharp increase in recent months.
AFM cases first spiked in August 2014. By the end of that year, 120 people had been diagnosed in 34 states. In 2015, 21 people were diagnosed in 16 states, according to the CDC.
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What is AFM and what causes the disease?
The exact cause of AFM is not known at this time, although many scientists think it is the result of a viral infection. But other culprits, such as environmental toxins, genetic disorders and Guillain-Barré syndrome could also be implicated in the disease, according to the CDC.
AFM itself is not contagious, remember it is the result of an infection, whatever it may be. We do know that patients’ symptoms have been most similar to those caused by certain viruses, including poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses and the West Nile virus.
Fox News reports that Dr. Manisha Patel, AFM team lead at the CDC and a practicing pediatrician, says "CDC is always concerned when there is a serious illness that is affecting the public, especially when it's affecting children. We're looking closely at what might be causing this and what might put someone at risk for AFM."
For more information on AFM, visit the CDC website.
More about acute flaccid myelitis, poliolike illness, CDC, Paralysis, Spinal cord
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