Rare, polio-like illness detected in Pittsburgh area

Quinton Hill and his parents

Quinton Hill and his parents

In her letter, Ms. Klobuchar asked Dr. Redfield to accelerate the CDC's response and investigation of the spike in AFM cases.

"It can extremely change lifestyles for these families", said Dr. Fernando Acosta, a neurologist at Cook Children's. Three other cases were reported in Pierce, Lewis, and Snohomish counties. From January 1st to September 30th, a total of 38 people in 16 states have been confirmed to have AFM.

AFM typically affects young children and creates polio-like symptoms. The cause of most of the AFM cases is unknown.

The Center for Disease Control started tracking AFM in 2014 and in one study, it found about a quarter of patients had fully recovered and regained use of their muscles after one year.

Symptoms can include sudden arm or leg weakness, a loss of reflexes, facial droopiness or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, or slurred speech, the CDC says.

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The rare, poorly understood, polio-like illness is thought to attack the body's nervous system - specifically, the spinal cord - and can cause paralysis.

It is believed that AFM can arise from a viral infection, although environmental and genetic factors could also cause the illness to develop. The child was hospitalized for five days and given intensive outpatient physical therapy, according to the report. "That enterovirus is transmittable from person to person, but you can't actually catch AFM from somebody else".

We do not know the long-term outcomes (prognosis) of people with AFM. It is believed that AFM can be contagious, and for this reason, isolation protocols are in place for patients who are confirmed to have the neurological illness.

"This is very, very dramatic when you see it", said. With the help of testing and examinations, doctors can distinguish between AFM and other neurologic conditions.

The CDC recommends people follow normal disease prevention steps to avoid AFM, including staying current on vaccines, washing hands and avoiding mosquito bites. One case was reported earlier this year. From August 2014 through August 2018, the CDC has been notified of 362 cases of the illness, mostly in children.

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