A mysterious paralyzing disease is affecting children in the U.S. & here's all you need to know


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A condition called acute flaccid myelitis, and also known as AFM, has been affecting many children across the country. United States health officials revealed on Monday, December 10, that there have been a record number of cases of the mysterious paralyzing illness affecting children this year. So far, almost all of the patients are under the age of 18.

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The rare disease, which has similar symptoms as polio, is still being investigated and has no cure since cases of children being affected by it first began to surface in 2014. An AFM Task Force of 16 experts was established by the CDC in November to help find a cure for the illness, which reportedly took a life last year. No deaths have been reported this year, but it seems like the virus gets stronger as time goes by.

 

More cases of kids affected by it are reported each year in the late summer and fall.

The CDC reported one death of a child who had AFM in 2017, but no deaths have been reported this year. But the number of cases keep rising. CBS reported in November that there have been a total of 90 people in 27 states across the U.S. who have been diagnosed with the neurological condition. At the time, the CDC was investigating another 162 cases for potential AFM.

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The symptoms of the disease are actually terrifying.

The symptoms of the disease are actually terrifying.

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The illness attacks the spinal cord and nervous system, causing those affected by it to lose the ability to move their face, neck, back, arms or legs. According to CBS, the symptoms tend to surface about a week after the child has had a fever and respiratory illness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have also reported that many of the patients have lasting paralysis. Some children, nearly half of those affected, were admitted to hospitals' intensive care units and required ventilators to help them breathe. 

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A task force has been created to try to get to the bottom of the health crisis.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention escalated its response to the rise in AFM cases in November, and put together a task force of experts and members of the medical community to try to find the cause of the disease and to find a cure.

Politicians are also stepping in in hopes of finding a source and a cure.

In November, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand weighed in on the issue that has affected children in the state and across the country. She said she hopes to get other senators to be more aware about AFM after she provides them with the data of the many cases that are popping up all over the country.

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The CDC is providing parents with ways to detect and prevent the illness in your children.

The CDC is providing parents with ways to detect and prevent the illness in your children.

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Even though AFM is rare, it can lead to serious neurologic problems. There are symptoms of AFM the CDC says to look out for and seek medical care right away if you notice you or your child develop any of them. Some of them include weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes in the arms or legs, facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech. You can protect yourself and your children from this disease by making sure you are all up to date on polio vaccinations, protecting against bites from mosquitoes and bugs, washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including toys and items around your home.

 

Topics: advice