Health officials report 6 cases of rare, polio-like virus in Minnesota

Stock image of a sick child

After his diagnosis, he spent six days in the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there have been a confirmed 38 cases across 16 states in 2018 so far.

There are several ways people can contract AFM, including exposure to toxins in the air, genetic factors or through viruses such as poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and Saint Louis encephalitis virus, according to the agency.

Acute flaccid myelitis has been diagnosed in at least six Minnesota children and health officials admit there are gaps in our understanding of the disease, including its causes and how to treat it.

All of the patients are children who have needed to be hospitalized, the department said, noting "nearly all have fully recovered".

The case of Orville Young, 4, was among the first in Minnesota to be reported. A 2014 uptick in the number of cases coincided with the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by eneterovirus D68. "So at that point, where it burst onto the scene, the CDC took initiatives to make this condition reportable". After treatment, the child was able to regain most of his muscle function, expect in his right arm, and is now in therapy, facing possible surgery.

"There is obviously a lot of concern about it, but it is rare", Griffith said.

The Minnesota health department issued an alert last Thursday, urging hospitals and clinics to be on the lookout for any symptoms associated with the rare disease. Children have been attacked by this disease since September mid.

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"From what my understanding is, if there is an external causal agent, it may be hard to determine when the exposure to that agent occurs", Kenyon said. They come from all over the state, including the Twin Cities area and northeastern and central Minnesota.

AFM is not known to be contagious, she said.

Like many children, Julia Payne, the toddler at Lurie, started to show signs of weakness and problems breathing on her own after a prolonged cold, said Dr. Marcelo Malakooti, the medical director for Lurie's pediatric intensive care unit. While there is no specific treatment for AFM, doctors may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.

Health experts say the disease can lead to paralysis and even death.

"The state health department has been monitoring this situation closely since early spring", the department said.

You can protect against bites from mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus, by using mosquito repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn (when bites are more common), and removing standing or stagnant water near your home (where mosquitoes can breed). We have not confirmed the cause for the majority of these cases. "We're doing everything we can to keep the muscles healthy".

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