Health officials: 3 cases of rare polio-like disease in Georgia

Cases of Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Reported in 22 states

Some victims have been infected with viruses, but researchers have been unable to identify a single virus responsible for all cases. From August 2014 to September 2018, 386 cases have been confirmed.

Messonnier said one child's death in 2017 was the result of AFM. It tends to develop in children more than adults. But Messonnier cautioned that it would be "premature" to conclude that this year will be the same as the earlier years.

But mysteriously no other country has reported the emerging every-two-years pattern seen in the U.S., Messonnier said. The rare but serious disorder affects a person's nervous system, specifically the spinal cord.

Besides viruses, officials are also considering environmental toxins as a possible cause, but so far, they have no evidence that a particular toxin is behind the cases.

The CDC is actively investigating the cases and working with healthcare providers as well as state and local health departments to spread the word about AFM. Yet, more than four years after health officials first recorded the most recent uptick in cases, much about the national outbreak remains a mystery. 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. For example, 11 of the Colorado cases of AFM this year have tested positive for EV A71, a rare type of enterovirus not usually seen in the USA, rather in Asia and other parts of the world, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.

Most patients who get the polio-like condition are children and as we enter the cold and flu season, AFM is one more thing for parents to watch out for.

He stresses that the condition is still extremely rare with only one in a million children now diagnosed. "We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care".

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The CDC said the West Nile virus, adenoviruses, poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses are also possible reasons why the illness has begun spreading.

Gregory said, "There's been reports of less than one in a million cases".

Rathore, the Jacksonville specialist, said he was not shocked at seeing a case this year.

While patients can show gradual improvement, she said that many are left with permanent long-term weakness. No pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.

There is no specific treatment, and most of the victims recover. "Previous year 49 people in Louisville died from the flu - so get your children (6 months and older) and yourself immunized against the flu". "We give them a lot of physical therapy, and they get a lot of rehabilitation". Some children paralyzed by AFM have eventually regained their ability to walk, but need time.

At least 65 more cases are under investigation, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

So far, the CDC hasn't seen any geographic patterns based on reporting from states.

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