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Rare ‘Polio-Like’ Illness Spreading In Minnesota

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Rare ‘Polio-Like’ Illness Spreading In Minnesota

A recent surge in acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in Minnesota has health officials on high-alert. AFM is a rare disease which mimics the symptoms of polio. The illness can cause paralysis in extreme cases.

AFM begins as a cold, runny nose, and cough. However, it can quickly turn into the paralysis of the arms and legs. Other symptoms include facial sagging, loss of muscle, difficulty swallowing, slurring of speech and paralysis.

James Hil told Minnesota’s ABC11 that his son Quinton suddenly was unable to move parts of his body.

“He started just complaining of just really bad neck stiffness. He couldn’t move his neck and then his left arm,” Hil said.

“We thought it was a dead arm. Like he was laying on it so we didn’t think much of it at first. But a couple hours into not being able to move his arm, we got concerned,” he continued.

Minnesota typically sees up to a single case (at most) of AFM annually. This year, there are six reported cases. Worse more, health officials have no idea what causes it.

All six acute flaccid myelitis cases are currently in Minnesota hospitals.

From 2014 to 2018, there have been 362 cases of AFM nationally.

Unfortunately, AFM has no cure. Although a slim number of kids are able to get some movement back, most never do.

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What Is Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Acute flaccid myelitis is a neurological disease that is usually (and rarely) found in children. Its cause is not clear. However, the working theory is that Acute flaccid myelitis is in fact, related to Polio.

Acute flaccid myelitis has increased since 2014, which has been of major concern for health officials.

Often, the Acute flaccid myelitis cases involve back, neck, and limb pain. This pain can sometimes precede paralysis. That paralysis can sometimes be a simple as the loss of one limb’s function, such as an arm.

While the jury remains out on the cause of acute flaccid myelitis, some science is point towards enterovirus 68 as being the culprit.

Most children who are diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis have been vaccinated for polio.

Additionally, it is possible that acute flaccid myelitis has been underdiagnosed for years through misdiagnoses.


Author: Jim Satney

PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.

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