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CDC prepares for possible spike in rare polio-like illness that affects children


Aug. 04, 2020

ATLANTA — The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing for a possible outbreak of an illness that parents need to know about.
Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is a very rare condition that mainly affects children and can cause paralysis . The illness has been compared to polio.
Channel 2′s Wendy Corona was on a call with the CDC on Tuesday as they discussed what they have learned since the last outbreak in 2018.
CDC leaders especially want parents to know the signs and symptoms and to not delay getting medical attention.
“AFM cases may be fewer this year or the outbreak may be delayed. But we know this, that AFM is a public health priority,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.
The CDC began surveillance of AFM in 2014 and noted an outbreak about every two years between August and November in young patients with an average age of 5.
In 2018, there were 238 cases in 42 states, including cases in Georgia.
“Overall 98% of patients were hospitalized. 54% were admitted to intensive care units and 23% required ventilation with the use of machines to help them breathe,” said Dr. Thomas Clark, CDC deputy director of the division of viral diseases.
The CDC call emphasized knowing the signs and symptoms for parents and frontline healthcare workers.
The symptoms include fever, respiratory illness, headaches, neck or back pain and the most common symptoms were limb weakness and paralysis.
While the symptoms resemble those of polio, all specimens collected tested negative for polio virus. Enterovirus D-68 was the most commonly identified virus.
Most patients with AFM had respiratory illness or fever about six days before the onset of limb weakness. Doctors emphasized for parents not to wait it out, but rather seek medical treatment quickly.
They also stressed to continue to social distance and be vigilant with your hand washing.
As of July 31, there have been 16 confirmed case in the United States this year with none in Georgia. In 2019, there were 46 confirmed cases with one in Georgia.
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