Polio Like Illness Diagnosed in Georgia
3 cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis, AFM, have been reported in Georgia. So far, there have been 62 confirmed cases across the United States.
AFM, which has polio-like symptoms, is on the rise. AFM affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, and can cause paralysis. It can cause weakness in one or more limbs and can lead to the inability to walk.
Other symptoms of AFM include:
• Trouble swallowing
• Trouble moving a limb, or multiple limbs
• Difficulty moving facial muscles
• Eye drooping
• Slurred speech
• Difficulty breathing which can lead to respiratory failure.
Acute Flaccid Myelitis Outbreak
Acute flaccid myelitis is rare, and the cause of the current outbreak is not yet known. It appears to be caused by a viral infection since many of the cases have tested positive for EV A71, an enterovirus. EV A71 is a distant relative of polio. Acute flaccid myelitis often affects children, but there have been adult cases reported as well.
The CDC reports that since 2014, there have been 386 confirmed cases. 62 of these cases have been reported in 2018. Colorado has the most confirmed cases, at 14.
According to Ben Spitalnick, M.D. a pediatrician in Savannah, “It starts off as a common cold but then what comes on very quickly is paralysis the inability to use the arms and legs. It can start off like tingling but eventually becomes paralysis,”
Even though the cause of AFM is still unknown, the CDC warns people to practice diseases prevention steps. They recommend staying up-to-date on vaccinations and washing your hands regularly. If you believe your child may have AFM, contact your doctor immediately.