AFM in 22 states: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An electron micrograph of a thin section of EV-D68 a rare enterovirus.									Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Yiting Zhang  CDC

An electron micrograph of a thin section of EV-D68 a rare enterovirus. Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Yiting Zhang CDC

The CDC does not know what the cause of the virus is yet.

Symptoms of AFM include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs, the CDC says.

The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.

Because the disorder is rare - afflicting less than one in a million people - doctors weren't considering it initially, Hill said.

Despite symptoms reminiscent of polio, no AFM cases have tested positive for that virus, according to the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they haven't found the cause. More than 90% of cases are in patients 18 or younger, with an average age of 4 years old.

In 2014 the CDC said there was a spike in the AFM virus, with 120 people afflicted with it from August to December of that year in 34 states.

Since officials have been unable so far to determine how the disease spreads, they are starting to count suspected cases as well as confirmed to better anticipate increases over the coming months.

"That's when children can really deteriorate and end up on a ventilator", Narula explains.

The first cases of AFM coincided with an unusually severe outbreak of a common virus that affects the lungs or gut. But federal officials said that those viruses have not been linked to the US outbreak over the past four years.

"Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases". Some possible suspects, such as polio and West Nile virus, have been ruled out.

"This remains a rare syndrome, but the similarities to poliomyelitis, polio-like illness, are concerning and bear close monitoring", Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, told ABC News in an interview.

In 2014, the initial reports of AFM coincided with an outbreak of infections from an enterovirus, EV-D68, that causes a respiratory illness, according to the CDC.

One child has died from the condition. "It seems like they're mostly clustered in the summer, but they can occur throughout the year", said Berbari.

"Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now", Messonnier said.

The CDC is actively investigating and monitoring disease activity and recommends taking standard prevention measures such as hand-washing, protecting oneself from mosquito bites and staying up-to-date on vaccinations.

The two cases this year were in the southern and southeastern parts of the state.

There does not appear to be any rhyme or reason as to why a child will get it. Some merely have difficulty moving the eye or the face; some have a single weakening limb. But the season has not ended, and several possible AFM cases remain under investigation.

They also wanted to raise awareness about the condition so parents can seek medical care if their child develops symptoms, and so physicians can quickly relay reports of the potential illness to the CDC.

Most kids who contract an enterovirus only suffer an upper-respiratory infection, Pardo-Villamizar and Dominguez said. Once damaged, such nerves don't regenerate.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.