CDC: 'Mystery illness' leaving dozens of children paralyzed

CNN learned that both North Carolina and SC are among 30 states with confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis.

The federal agency said similar waves of the illness occurred in 2014 and 2016.

According to the CDC, the number of patients with AFM symptoms increases each year in August and September.

"It attacked [my child's] body and her spinal cord a certain way that seems to be happening to other kids too", said Josh Payne, the parent of a child battling AFM. Most of the cases have been in children.

CDC is not releasing a list of the 22 states with confirmed and suspected cases because of privacy issues.

There have been no confirmed cases of AFM in Maine this year, according to Emily Spencer, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine CDC.

The other case of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, occurred in August, and four others are under investigation in MA.

Roughly 90 percent of the cases so far have involved children, who suffer from muscle weakness or paralysis that impacts face, neck, back or limbs.

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While AFM is incredibly rare, the current rate is less than one case for every 1 million Americans, Messonnier urged parents and health care providers to be on the lookout for symptoms.

In an email Tuesday, Maryland Department of Health spokeswoman Brittany Fowler said the CDC will "make a determination about the status of the cases" in Maryland "based on clinical and laboratory information".

That's when we spoke with the families of 4-year-old Camdyn Carr, who's now fighting the disease, and 7-year-old Sebastian Bottomley, who previously fought AFM.

Another potential cause of AFM is a type of enterovirus called EV D68, Todd said.

There were 120 cases in 2014 when the disease was first detected in the United States.

There is now no cure for AFM, known cause in most cases, or clear explanation for why some people who contract the enterovirus experience symptoms and others do not. Then in 2016, there were 149 confirmed cases. But Messonnier said that, in general, parents can help protect their children from diseases by washing their hands, making sure their children are up to date with vaccinations and applying insect repellent to protect against mosquito bites, which can spread viruses. It could be potentially deadly if the diaphragm is paralyzed because the child would be unable to breathe.

Generally, most children with AFM see subtle improvements over time, but "most have long-term weakness", she said.

So far, the CDC hasn't seen any geographic patterns based on reporting from states.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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