CDC: ‘Mystery Disease’ Sickening Kids In 22 States, Including New Jersey

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday that so far, no common cause linking these illnesses has been found, NPR reported.

Right now, it's unclear what has caused the AFM cases in Illinois, Colorado, and Pittsburgh.

Messonnier said the search for a cause is frustrating, and so far, no particular pathogen or immune response has been identified that would explain the big AFM peaks.

Two cases of the disease - acute flaccid myelitis - have been confirmed in MA with another four cases under investigation.

More broadly, she noted, "there is a lot we don't know about AFM". A doctor can examine a patient's nervous system and the places on the body where he or she has weakness, poor muscle tone, and decreased reflexes.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says they had referred a case from this summer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has confirmed 62 cases of the neurological disease in 22 states.

"As we work to better understand what's causing AFM, parents can help protect their children by washing your hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites", Messonnier said. Some patients recover quickly and some need ongoing therapy for paralysis.

About 120 confirmed cases were reported in 2014.

The following year, there were 22 confirmed cases in 17 states, and 2016 saw 149 cases in 39 jurisdictions, including D.C. In 2017 there were 33 confirmed cases in 16 states.

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The experts emphasized that even though AFM is regularly passing through the United States, it remains a rare illness. Despite symptoms reminiscent of polio, no AFM cases have tested positive for that virus, according to the CDC.

A unsafe and rare disease that's similar to the polio virus is on the rise in the U.S., and it has health officials baffled.

AFM is not new, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started keeping track of it in 2014 when, for an unknown reason, there was a noticeable spike in the number of cases. But other neurological conditions, including Transverse Myelitis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and West Nile virus infection, also cause lesions on the spinal cord, making it hard for physicians to make a quick and definite diagnosis.

Officials said they will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases.

The CDC is investigating the outbreak.

Earlier this month, 6 cases were reported in Minnesota, 3 in North Texas, and one in Chicago. As stated by the health department, four cases showing AFM have been found during this year in Maryland.

There is no specific treatment, and most of the victims recover.

"However, the CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every child with confirmed AFM", he told Healthline in an email. But, if their child is diagnosed, parents should prepare for extensive physical therapy - therapy that isn't always covered by insurance, he said.

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