Acute flaccid myelitis: CDC says 155 cases of child paralysis under investigation

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Health officials keep close eye on AFM
The mysterious illness affects mostly children.

New numbers in from the Centers for Disease Control are showing more cases of a rare, polio-like illness affecting children nationwide.

The CDC announced they are investigating 155 cases of AFM, or acute flaccid myelitis, which is up from just 127 cases a week ago.

AFM can cause paralysis and mostly affects children.

The average age of patients is just 4 years old.

One of those patients is 4-year old Camdyn Carr of Virginia.

"I can't tell you how he feels, and how he's hurting or anything. So it's heartbreaking," said Brittany Hoff, Camdyn's mother.

Like polio, AFM is also thought to be caused by a virus but no one knows what virus and why it affects children differently.

According to the CDC, symptoms include drooping eyelids, facial weakness, slurred speech, and sudden arm or leg weakness.

David Thompson, the Vice President of Medical Affairs for VIGILINT, a Morrisville- based telemedicine company, had important advice for parents.

"Make sure that your children keep their immunizations up to date, that's incredibly important for all manner of different illnesses. Wash hands. Practice good hygiene. Avoid contact with other children who may be ill as much as possible," Thompson said.

So far, the CDC reports 62 confirmed cases in 22 states. There are dozens of other possible cases.

In an outbreak in 2014, there were 120 confirmed cases.

In 2016, there were 149 cases.

According to the North Carolina Division of Public Health, there is one confirmed case of AFM in North Carolina and two probable causes. In 2016, there were four confirmed cases, and in 2014 there were two confirmed cases. There were no reported cases in 2015 or 2017.

Despite the outbreak this year, Thompson is reminding people of its relative infrequency.

"AFM is an extremely rare condition. It affects less than 1 in 1 million children in the United States," Thompson said.

If you have any questions or suspect your child may be showing symptoms of AFM, contact a doctor immediately.

To learn more about AFM, click here.

ABC station KTRK contributed to this report.