CDC investigating 286 reports of polio-like condition

By Allen Cone

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 286 possible cases of a polio-like condition called acute flaccid myelitis, including 116 confirmed ones in 31 states, the agency said Monday.

The number of confirmed cases increased by 10 from last week, as the total eclipsed the 33 confirmed cases in 16 states last year. Two years ago there were 149 cases in 39 states and the District of Columbia, according to the CDC.


Despite the outbreak, "less than one to two in a million children in the United States will get AFM every year," the CDC said.

A confirmed cause has not been identifed for AFM, which has symptoms of muscle weakness or paralysis caused by damage to the spinal cord. Often this damage is caused by viruses but no specific one has been identified among 440 confirmed AFM cases since 2014, according to the CDC.

A direct attack of the nerves by the virus, an immune response that affects nerve or a genetic susceptibility among some patients are possible causes, the CDC said.

"We work closely with national experts, healthcare providers, and state and local health departments to thoroughly investigate AFM by looking for possible risk factors and causes, figuring out why some people develop this condition, monitoring AFM activity nationwide, and updating possible treatment options," the CDC said.


Enteroviruses frequently circulate in fall and winter.

Since 2014, the CDC said more than 90 percent of the cases have occurred in children.

"Viral infections such as from enteroviruses are common, especially in children, and most people recover," the CDC said. "We don't know why a small number of people develop AFM, while most others recover. We are continuing to investigate this."

No specific treatment exists for AFM.

"You can protect yourself and others from enteroviruses by washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, including toys," the CDC advises.

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