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Rare Condition Similar To Polio Seen In Children Across The Country

October 16, 2018 - 7:06 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A mysterious and rare condition similar to polio has been affecting children across the country, and federal health officials cannot figure out what is causing it.

Washington Post Health Reporter Lena Sun said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first noticed an uptick in cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, in 2014.

“The symptoms are sudden weakness – usually in children in the arms and legs – weakness or loss of muscle tone,” Sun explained to WCBS 880’s Steve Scott and Michael Wallace.

There were about 120 cases in 2014, but it dropped in 2015, only to rise again in 2016, drop a second time in 2017, and increase dramatically this year.

“I don’t know why it’s only happening in even-numbered years, and they have been trying to figure out what causes it, but they don’t know the real reason,” Sun said.

There is no specific treatment for acute flaccid myelitis, and nobody really knows what the long-term outcomes could be, Sun said.

“Now, you have to remember, this is very rare. It’s serious, but rare – affecting probably based on the number of cases so far, less than one in 1 million children under 18. But at the same time, because they don’t know what causes it, and they’ve run extensive tests, they want parents to be aware that if they see these symptoms, they should seek medical care and get that taken care of right away, because it is very serious,” she said.