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Posted: October 11, 2018

5 children hospitalized with polio-like sudden paralysis in Washington state

What You Need to Know: Acute Flaccid Myelitis

By KIRO7.com

SEATTLE —

Five children in Washington state have been hospitalized for the sudden onset of paralysis of one or more of their limbs, Washington State Department of Health officials announced Wednesday.

Health department officials are working with experts to confirm whether the children have acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). 

All five of the infants and children are younger than 6 years old

>> On WPXI.com: Acute flaccid myelitis: Why is mysterious polio-like illness afflicting children so badly?

AFM is a rare condition that affects the nervous system, especially the spinal cord, health officials said. 

On Oct. 8, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported an uptick in the illness impacting children. 

It is raising serious red flags with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

The rare disease is similar to polio.

The five young children being treated in Washington state reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM.

Health officials said the children are residents of King County, Pierce County, Lewis County and Snohomish County. 

In 2016, there were nine cases of AFM in Washington state, health officials said. In 2017, there were three cases, and since the beginning of 2018, there has been one case in the state.

>> Read more trending news 

“Symptoms (of AFM) typically include sudden weakness in one or more arms or legs, along with loss of muscle tone and decreased or absent reflexes,” health officials said. “AFM can cause a range of types and severity of symptoms, but the commonality among them is a loss of strength or movement in one or more arms or legs. The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found. CDC specialists will make the final determination if these (new Washington state) cases are AFM.”

Read more here.


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Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

5 children hospitalized with polio-like sudden paralysis in Washington state

Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

5 children hospitalized with polio-like sudden paralysis in Washington state

File photo of a doctor examining a child.

Acute flaccid myelitis: Why is mysterious polio-like illness afflicting children so badly?

The mysterious polio-like disease that may be afflicting three children in Pittsburgh and others in Minnesota is raising a lot of concern.

>> Watch the news report here

Pittsburgh's WPXI sat down with Dr. Jennifer Preiss from the Allegheny Health Network to talk about acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM.

>> On WPXI.com: 3 children possibly suffering from polio-like disease being treated at Children's Hospital

“It’s bringing back a lot of hysteria, and if you knew anyone who lived during the polio time, there was a lot of hysteria about polio,” Preiss said. “Most of the time, everyone gets better and everyone is fine, but in these rare cases, there is some immune response that is attacking the muscles of these children.”

The Centers for Disease Control doesn’t know the exact cause of this virus that starts as a cold but then attacks the nervous system, causing different forms of paralysis.

Preiss says a lot is dependent on how a person’s immune system responds to this particular virus.

>> Read more trending news 

“Some of the time, when people get viruses – and I’m not even speaking about this particular virus – bad things happen because we have these hyper-immune systems, and some of these hyper-immune system responses are what causes the paralysis,” she said.

The CDC is now looking at the samples taken from the children at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

It will be several weeks before we know if the virus strain in Pittsburgh is the same as the virus in Minnesota that’s affected six kids and made national headlines.

  3 children possibly suffering from polio-like disease being treated in Pittsburgh
  Mysterious illness that partially paralyzes children on the rise
 

Mysterious illness that partially paralyzes children on the rise

There is an uptick in a mysterious illness impacting children.

It is raising some serious red flags with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

The rare disease is called acute flaccid myelitis or "AFM" and is similar to polio. 

>> Read more trending news 

Minnesota's health department has reported six cases of the illness since last month.

The CDC says it starts as a common cold, but later partially paralyzes children.

"Weakness in your arms and in your legs, slurred speech, and facial drooping," Janette Nesheiwat said,

She said anyone with symptoms should see a doctor right away.

Right now, there is no cure for the illness.

 

3 children possibly suffering from polio-like disease being treated in Pittsburgh

mysterious illness that is partially paralyzing children has struck in Pittsburgh.

>> Read more trending news 

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC confirmed to Channel 11 on Tuesday that three children suspected to be suffering from acute flaccid myelitis, or "AFM," are being treated there.

"The patients are currently undergoing diagnostic procedures and treatment," the hospital said in a statement. "Isolation protocols and infection control procedures are in place and we're working with the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department to further monitor and evaluate the patient conditions."

The disease is raising some serious red flags with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

Minnesota's health department has reported six cases of the illness, which is similar to polio, since last month.

The CDC says it starts as a common cold, but later partially paralyzes children.

>> Related: Mysterious illness that partially paralyzes children on the rise

"Weakness in your arms and in your legs, slurred speech, and facial drooping," Dr. Janette Nesheiwat said.

She said anyone with symptoms should see a doctor right away.

Right now, there is no cure for the illness.

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