CDC says rare polio-like disease could be spreading

Acute Flaccid Myelitis causes paralysis

"These symptoms are typical of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and increases of similar cases have been reported by many other North American pediatric centres".

A spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada said there have been 25 probable and five confirmed cases of sudden-onset muscle weakness in children reported in the country this year, but current surveillance data have not picked up any recent surge in cases.

AFM tends to affect children and young adults-among the confirmed cases, the average age of those afflicted is 4, and 90% of those with the condition are age 18 or younger.

While it's a worrying condition, it affects less than one in a million people in the United States each year.

The CDC says the number of patients under investigation is up from 127 patients a week ago.

"Even with the spike of cases that we have at the moment, it's still an incredibly rare condition", Friedman said.

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"This remains a rare syndrome, but the similarities to poliomyelitis, polio-like illness, are concerning and bear close monitoring", says Dr Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, according to Yahoo!

"While we don't know the cause of most of the AFM cases, it's always important to practice disease prevention steps, such as staying up-to-date on vaccines, washing your hands, and protecting yourself from mosquito bites", the CDC said. Many are calling AFM a "polio-like" illness, because it causes weakness and paralysis in childrens' arms and legs.

Poliovirus and West Nile virus may sometimes lead to AFM.

By the time any of the prominent symptoms occur-droopy eyelid, weak arm or trouble standing up-the virus is already gone.

Messonnier said other viruses besides EV-D68 have been found in patients with AFM.

"I can confirm that since September, we have certainly seen an increase of patients with muscle weakness who also had a preceding viral illness", Dr. Jeremy Friedman, associate pediatrician-in-chief at the Hospital for Sick Children, told CBC. "What the physician will do is rule out other causes rule out other things that might be causing it". "But if you are having the peaks of disease every late summer and early fall you would think we (would be) finding a single agent". When it infects pregnant women, the Zika virus can go into the brains of the developing fetuses and cause permanent damage. That virus has been identified as one cause of AFM.

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