Six children from Minnesota have been diagnosed with Acute flaccid myelitis, a disease similar to polio. What symptoms should you be on the lookout for? We’ve got all the details.
Causing weakness and paralysis of the arms and legs, Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) sounds an awful lot like polio — and the rare disease has affected six children in Minnesota, according to local news outlet Kare 11. So why is AFM on the rise? The scary diagnosis is not a new one, but it has been increasing since 2014. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have logged 362 cases in the last four years, mostly concentrated in two states. Here are five fast facts about the disease and its scary spread.
1. AFM affects the nervous system. Traveling through the spinal cord, this disease results in lots of recognizable symptoms similar to polio. Although sudden arm and leg weakness and paralysis characterizes AFM, it also can show itself in the face through drooping eyelids, slurred speech, swallowing difficulty and facial weaknesses. Of course, healthcare providers should be contacted ASAP if a child is showcasing these symptoms.
2. It has been mostly diagnosed in two states. Of the known 362 AFM cases between August 2014 and August 2018, most of them took place in California and Colorado. So what gives? The CDC has linked the disease to an enterovirus, EVD68, which has also been related to polio. Children with asthma are more vulnerable to an infection from EVD68.
3. There are ways to prevent AFM. Take note! Keeping AFM at bay can be accomplished with a few easy steps. The Minnesota Department of Health has released a list of preventatives, from frequent hand washing and cough covering to getting vaccinated and avoiding mosquito bites. The MDH also recommends that any sick kids stay home until they’re better.
4. A parent opened up about his son’s diagnosis. “There’s not much that can be done and as a parent that’s very difficult to deal with,” seven-year-old Quinton Hill‘s father told Kare 11. “Just to have him lift his head up a bit more to look to the side was a blessing, because we didn’t know if that was coming back.” Quinton, who is weak in his left arm and leg, as well as his neck, has been dealing with this disease for the past few weeks. His parents joined a Facebook group, which has helped them feel less alone.
5. Minnesota has seen a scary AFM increase. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that only one case of AFM is diagnosed a year, six children younger than ten are suffering from AFM. With its spread from the Twin Cities to central and northeastern Minnesota, doctors in the area are looking out for more cases — and more information.