Polio-like illness paralyzing U.S. children

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported a spike in a mysterious polio-like illness confirmed in nearly half the states in the country this year.


CNN graph: Source: CDC


Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, approximately 50 people in 24 states were diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis; mostly children.

AFM is known to affect the body’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord and can cause paralysis. ┬áThe disease is similar to polio, but unlike polio there is no vaccine for AFM.

In August 2014, the disease first spiked and by the year’s end approximately 120 people were diagnosed in 34 states. In 2015 only 21 people were diagnosed with the disease in 16 states. A report revealing cases diagnosed this year will be reported at the end of October.

The cause of the illness remains unknown, but doctors believed it was linked to an Enterovirus D68 outbreak. Entervirus D68 is a respiratory virus that sent hundreds of children to the hospital with fever and respiratory issues. Five days later the child would develop pain in their arms and legs, followed by weakness.

According to CDC, some believe environmental toxins, genetic disorders and Guillain-Barre syndrome could be culprits in getting the disease.

Pediatric infectious disease physician and researcher at Children’s Hospital Colorado called the condition rare but feels it is important to take it seriously because of the long-term and potentially disabling consequences.