Published On: Fri, Oct 12th, 2018

Polio outbreak 2018: What is MYSTERY polio-like disease rocking the US? | World | News

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A Polio-like disease has been creeping its way though the United States for the best part of a week, and has been branded a mystery by medical personnel.

The disease is not officially Polio, which is now near-eradicated in the world, and is making no sign of a resurgence.

However, the disease is called Acute Flaccid Myelitis and produces symptoms familiar to those of the once deadly disease.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) can be just as deadly, as it preys on the victim’s nervous system.

What is Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

AFM has been diagnosed in children in 19 US states, including Minnesota and Colorado.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has so far reported nine cases of the deadly virus.

This year, cases have been confined to people under the age of 18, with the disease branded a mystery due to the number of potential causes.

Most often, causes cannot be identified, but may include enteroviruses (transmitted from the intestine), West Nile virus and adenoviruses – a frequent cause of child sickness.

Symptoms of Acute Flaccid Myelitis include:

In most people, AFH is onset as sudden arm or leg weakness, or loss of muscle tone and reflexes.

Given the disease affects the nervous system, targeting neurology other symptoms are targeted around the face.

Other symptoms include:

– Facial droop/weakness

– Difficulty moving the eyes

– Drooping eyelids

– Difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech

How do you treat Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Given the diseases rarity, treatment is still in the early stages, but research papers have warned of the danger of the disease and how best to treat children who contract it.

According to a research paper by Sunit C. Singh, Naveen Sankhyan, Ravi Shah and Pratibha Singh, treating the disease early is vital to ensure paralysis does not progress to death.

Their paper states: “An accurate and early diagnosis of the cause has important bearing on the management and prognosis.

“If not managed appropriately, paralysis can progress to respiratory failure and death.”

A separate paper, titled ‘Acute Flaccid Myelitis: Interim Considerations for Clinical Management’ laid out how children who have the disease should be treated.

The paper said: “General routine clinical management of children with AFM should adhere to basic standards of care for children with severe neurologic disease.

“Physical and occupational therapy should be implemented as soon as the child is physically stable in order to optimise functional outcomes.”

There are few treatments for the disease, but remains serious enough to warrant extensive research in the future.

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