Polio-like disease spreads to 31 states: Officials confirm 116 cases of the mystery illness which causes paralysis in children

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
By Paul Martin

Acute flaccid myelitis causes flu-like symptoms and can lead to lifelong paralysis
Experts are not certain what causes the disease and don’t know how to treat it
There have been more than three-and-a-half times as many cases as last year

27 November 2018

The number of children struck down with the rare ‘polio-like’ acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in the US has risen to 116, officials have confirmed.

Thirty-one states have now reported cases of the poorly understood illness, which can cause paralysis and, in rare cases, prove deadly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating a further 170 cases of people with tell-tale symptoms of AFM.

There has already been more than three-and-a-half times as many cases as last year, but doctors remain baffled as to what is causing the illness.

The CDC put out its most recent figures on Tuesday, showing there have been 286 reports of people suffering from acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in 31 states, with 116 of those cases confirmed.

More than 90 percent of people affected by the illness are under 18 and the average age of patients is four.

It is believed to be caused by a combination of viruses and children usually first show signs of a fever and a cough for three to 10 days.

But after the flu-like illness, AFM can suddenly leave people paralysed for life or even end up fatal.

AFM has been called a polio-like illness because of its resemblance to the viral infection, which affected hundreds of thousands of people in the mid-1900s.

It is thought to be unlikely the disease is contagious among people, but it could be caused by viruses which are spread easily.

The CDC last week set up a dedicated task force to try and tackle the illness by investigating its causes and working out how to treat it.

Colorado has been the worst hit state, with 15 cases, followed by Texas with 14.

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