Second case of rare nervous system disorder confirmed in Iowa

Second case of rare nervous system disorder confirmed in Iowa

Second case of rare nervous system disorder confirmed in Iowa

Although it's rare, the CDC recommends seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms or legs.

"More than 90 percent of the cases are in children age 18 years and younger", Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a CDC press conference. Another kind of virus is suspected, but it's been found in only some of the cases.

Quinton Hill, 7, of Lakeville, Minn., lost movement in one arm last month due to a mysterious syndrome known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). "We had one case of that and that was just very bad", Acosta said. "We don't fully understand the long-term consequences of AFM". So if AFM affects the lower side of the spinal cord, the paralysis tends to occur in the legs.

Besides viruses, officials are also considering environmental toxins as a possible cause, but so far, they have no evidence that a particular toxin is behind the cases.

Maryland health officials said their first case was reported to them September 21. Yet, more than four years after health officials first recorded the most recent uptick in cases, much about the national outbreak remains a mystery.

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM", Messonnier told NPR in a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday. But Messonnier cautioned that it would be "premature" to conclude that this year will be the same as the earlier years.

"Then she woke up one day and said, 'Mommy, I can't walk, '" recalled Gary, of DeBary. "Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now". She said based on the size of a Facebook group for AFM parents, the numbers are likely higher than what's been confirmed nationally.

In a letter to the CDC Director on Thursday, Murray and Cantwell said they're concerned with the number of cases identified this year, not just in our state, but nationwide.

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While officials aren't clear of the exact cause, they say it can occur as a result of a variety of viral illnesses including the polio virus, enteroviruses, West Nile virus and adenoviruses.

Possible causes being considered include viruses that affect the digestive system called enteroviruses, and possibly strains of rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, she said.

But what is particularly confounding doctors is that the number of cases spikes only every other year - with larger numbers in 2014, 2016 and this year - and fewer cases in 2015 and 2017.

The Norton cases are believed to be the only ones in Kentucky to date so far this year.

The CDC is investigating the outbreak. No one finding can explain all the cases, she said.

For example, the CDC doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or why some are at higher risk, she said. CDC has tested every stool specimen from every AFM patient. In addition, unlike with polio, most children recover, though some require ongoing treatment. But, if their child is diagnosed, parents should prepare for extensive physical therapy - therapy that isn't always covered by insurance, he said. "You don't need an very bad lot of paralyzed children to make this an important problem".

"Families really sticking with it are seeing slow but steady recovery", he said.

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