Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a polio-like illness that paralyzed more than 100 children across America in 2014 is again on the rise.
The condition affects the nervous system. It starts out with symptoms similar to those a person would experience with a cold. However, it has the ability to escalate dramatically and leave most of a child’s body paralyzed in a matter of days.
There is no specific treatment for AFM, and children are left experiencing paralysis and need a ventilator to breathe.
On Monday the CDC reported that 50 people across 24 states have contracted AFM from January to August this year, and this is the same illness that affected 120 children in 2014.
There have already been more than twice as many AFM cases this year than last year. In 2015, 21 people in the US had the disease, according to the CDC.
“My concern is that we are seeing a trend now in 2016 that mirrors what we saw in 2014,” Dr Teri Schreiner, from the Children’s Hospital Of Colorado, told NBC News.
Causes of AFM include infections by enteroviruses (polio and non-polio), the West Nile virus and viruses of the same family, and adenoviruses.
Earlier this year a young child from a southern border state was diagnosed with AFM and stills needs a ventilator to breathe. According to one of his parents, he is currently stuck in the hospital but is going to physical therapy sessions and is making some progress such as being able to sit up again.
Another young child, Carter Roberts, 3, from Chesterfield, Virginia, became paralyzed from the nose down over the course of one weekend in July.
According to NBC News, Carter can only move one toe and the left eye of his face, as well as blink and stick his tongue out.
“I got to hear him talk and he said just a handful of words and as a mom, it was the sweetest sound ever,” His mother Robin told NBC News. “I wake up and am hopeful every day that he’s going to make some progress. It’s hard not a feel a little bit robbed because this happened so quickly, but it was just a virus.”
According to the CDC Symptoms of AFM include:
Sudden weakness in the limbs.
Loss of muscle tone and reflexes.
Facial droop or weakness.
Difficulty moving the eyes.
Some patients have pain in their arms or legs or cannot urinate.
The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure, which can happen when the muscles involved in breathing weaken.
Patients with respiratory failure need a ventilator.
There is no treatment for AFM. Neurologists can work with patients on a case-by-case basis.
Physical therapy can help patients regain the use of some of their muscles.
According to the CDC, here are some ways to prevent AFM:
Be up to date on all recommended vaccinations, including poliovirus.
Use mosquito repellent and stay indoors at dusk and dawn to protect yourself from viruses such as the West Nile virus, which has been associated with AFM.
Wash your hands frequently using soap and water.
Avoid being in close contact with sick people.
Clean surface with a disinfectant, especially if someone is sick.
Wash your hands before your touch food, after going to the bathroom, touching an animal, changing a baby’s diaper or blowing your nose.
Wash your hands before and after taking care of someone who is sick or before and after tending to a wound or cut.
DML OPINION: It is important to note that in 2014 there was a record surge of illegal aliens crossing the border. For the first time in history the Border Patrol enforced a “catch and release” program. Under this program there are no medical checks performed. In 2016, the number of illegal aliens surging through the border is even greater than 2014. Again, the catch and release program is in full swing. And there, in our opinion, sits the answer nobody wants to address. The more we allow people to enter our country unchecked, the more we risk the spread of diseases like this one.
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