Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Like Polio Found Among Kids in 22 States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed cases in 22 states overall.

Among the cases under investigation are five reported to Maryland health officials in recent weeks, a health department spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Last year the number dropped to 16, making the pattern one that hits harder every other year.

Lacking an established cause, health officials confirm cases through a review of brain scans and symptoms.

The peculiar illness causes weakness in the limbs, loss of muscle tone, and may also result in neck pain, headache, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and in the worst of cases, respiratory failure.

The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily. It affects fewer than one in a million people each year across the country, the CDC estimates.

Since the condition was first recognized by CDC in 2014, the agency has confirmed 362 cases.

Parents in the metro are on guard after officials with the Douglas County Health Department revealed that there is a child in Douglas County possibly showing symptoms of a rare polio-like condition called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM. All told 386 cases of AFM have been confirmed since 2014, more than 90 percent in children younger than 18. But she stressed that despite the increase in cases, the illness is still very rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in a million people in the US each year.

There are now more than 125 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis - the "mystery illness" that's been affecting children across the U.S. and leaving them paralyzed. Nor can they explain why only a handful of infected children developed AFM. But that bug - enterovirus D68 - could not be definitively linked to the illnesses.

So far across the county, 62 cases of the rare polio-like neurological condition have been reported. IL health officials said they're working with the CDC to better classify the cases. The illness has been compared to the polio and West Nile viruses.

Messonnier said some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly while others continue to struggle with paralysis.

That's when we spoke with the families of 4-year-old Camdyn Carr, who's now fighting the disease, and 7-year-old Sebastian Bottomley, who previously fought AFM.

"Nobody really knows treatment protocols, they don't know prognosis, and they can't really give parents an answer as to where this is coming from", she said.

The disorder has been diagnosed in unvaccinated children and also in children who have received some of their recommended vaccinations, she said.

Mary said, "We have a 9-year-old grandson that we worry about and other grandchildren and we just don't know enough about it".

  • Santos West