CDC Stymied By Paralyzing Polio-Like Illness Mainly Affecting Children
As if parents didn’t have enough to worry about. Federal health officials are worried about an increase in a mysterious and rare condition that mostly affects children and can paralyze arms and legs, with 127 confirmed or suspected cases reported as of Tuesday.
The Berkshire Eagle reports of those, 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states, according to Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90 percent of the confirmed cases have been in children 18 and under, with the average age being 4 years old.
There is no specific treatment for the disorder, and long-term outcomes are unknown. The rare but serious disorder affects a person's nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Neurological conditions like it have a variety of causes, such as viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders.
The increase in cases has been happening since 2014, with the number of cases spiking in August and September, she said in a news briefing with reporters. One child with the disorder died in 2017. Officials have been baffled by the increase, and are starting to count suspected cases as well as confirmed ones to better anticipate increases in confirmed cases over the coming months.
Despite extensive laboratory and other testing, CDC has not been able to find the cause for the majority of the cases.
CDC said, "There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness."