More cases of polio-like illness reported, local pediatrician weighs in

Health News

The CDC is now saying there are 18 more confirmed cases of the polio-like illness, acute flaccid myelitis or AFM, than reported last week.

So far, the agency says there have been 134 confirmed cases in 33 states this year.

One of which was in San Juan County, New Mexico. So, should parents be worried?

There are still uncertainties about this disease.

The doctor of pediatric infectious diseases at UNMH, Martha Muller, says parents should worry about it like they would any other disease.

Keep an eye out for any obvious symptoms.

“The sudden onset of weakness in one or many of limbs, your arms or legs, decrease in muscle tone, decrease in reflexes,” said Muller.
The CDC says most people who experienced acute flaccid myelitis also had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they developed it.
AFM is a very rare, uncommon disease.

It affects the gray matter in the spinal cord, causing muscles and reflexes to become weak and sometimes paralyzed.
Last week, the CDC said that more than 95 percent of the patients with AFM this year have been children younger than 18, the average age of those infected was 5.

“The number one tip is definitely seek medical care right away. If there is a concern, do not be shy about seeking medical attention so that we can make sure your child gets what they need with evaluation and management,” said Muller.
A parent KRQE News 13 spoke with said they’re unfamiliar with the disease but say they’ll continue with general health practices.
“I think if there haven’t been that many outbreaks, it’s for me not something to be too concerned about until it just becomes more of an epidemic. As a mother of four kids at home, as well as being in a classroom with pre-k students, we just are using the proper precautions just to keep ourselves healthy during the winter season,” said parent Alyssa Kist.
Muller says the CDC has been evaluating AFM since 2013.

Other viruses like the Polio, Enteroviruses and West Nile Virus have been linked to the disease. But most of the cases, that health officials have evaluated don’t have a cause. 

For now, she says there isn’t a general way to prevent it.
The CDC says it’s continuing to investigate and a task force of 12 experts are working on the case. 

The department also says the disease appears to have peaked for the year. 

For more information on the condition, click here.

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