CDC: Mysterious paralyzing illness reported in 22 states

The state's health department said the five reported cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) also are being investigated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are among dozens of cases the federal health agency is looking into across the country.

And for now, it's hard to say if 2018 will equal or surpass spikes seen in 2014 and 2016, Messonnier said, adding that state and federal health officials haven't finished the whole diagnostic algorithm for numerous cases reported over the past several weeks.

The surge has baffled health officials, who on Tuesday announced a change in the way the agency is counting cases. Another kind of virus was found in only some of the cases.

The season for the illness, when it occurs, appears to be August, September, and October, Benson said.

The condition is not new, but officials started to see a rise in cases in 2014; and there was another spike in 2016. In 2017, one person died of AFM. Acute flaccid myelitis in children causes more complications than measles, Ebola, and zika together.

Parents can help protect their children, Messonnier said, by washing their hands, staying current on immunizations and applying mosquito spray during outdoor play. Experts don't know the long-term effects of the disease.

According to yesterday's warning issued by the CDC, the disease could be linked to environmental toxins, genetic disorders or other viruses such as West Nile. She said that most AFM cases occur in the late summer and fall.

"We know this can be frightening for parents, and I know many parents want to know what signs and symptoms they should be looking out for in their children", Messonnier said.

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AFM is an extremely rare condition that causes muscles and reflexes to become weak.

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness is aware of one local case of the polio-like illness, which can cause sudden weakness in the limbs and other neurological symptoms.

The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said.

The origin of the disease is also a mystery, but despite similarities it is not the polio virus.

In some individuals, health officials have determined that the condition was from infection with a type of virus that causes severe respiratory illness. However, Messonnier said in her report, the CDC has tested every stool specimen from AFM patients, and none have tested positive for poliovirus. There was one confirmed death past year, the CDC said on Tuesday.

"At this time we don't have a way to determine which children may be at an elevated risk for developing AFM, or the underlying explanation that predisposes them to develop AFM in the first place", he said. To date, no pathogen has been consistently detected in AFM patients.

There is no specific treatment, and most of the victims recover. A child is less likely to have AFM, which is less than 1 in million. "So we're very lucky that he had (physical therapy) through early intervention". "You don't need an very bad lot of paralyzed children to make this an important problem". It has received 127 reports of patients under investigation (PUIs) for AFM this year, though it notes that figure includes the 62 confirmed cases.

  • Ismael Montgomery