By Ali Gorman
There are now 38 cases of a rare polio-like illness reported nationwide this year. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reported two cases in August.
This is similar to what we saw a few years ago.
There are some sporadic cases and also some clusters.
One in Minnesota with 6 cases, Colorado is reporting 14 and in Pennsylvania, there are three cases in Pittsburgh.
CHOP treated two cases in August and there have been others reported in New Jersey as well.
It is rare but the effects can be devastating.
Three-and-a half year old Camden Stravers of Iowa is unable to support his head and his arm is partially paralyzed, but just three months ago he was perfectly healthy.
His parents say what started seemingly as a cold, turned into something much worse – Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM. This year, there are now 38 cases confirmed in 16 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“It is sudden onset of weakness in an arm, leg, face or the muscles that help us swallow and we use to speak,” said Dr. Amaran Moodley from Blank Children’s Hospital.
Researchers believe it’s linked to enteroviruses, but they aren’t sure of the exact type or why most kids will just get a runny nose – but some will face paralysis.
Recovery is also unknown. Some kids will regain function, others won’t.
20-year-old Hannah McNeill of Colorado is one of very few adults diagnosed with AFM. It paralyzed her from the waist down.
“I was trying to move my toes and my feet and nothing would happen,” she recalled.
But after months of physical therapy, she is slowly starting to recover.
“Shoot, two months ago I couldn’t walk now I can in my walker,” said Hannah.
Doctors at the Children’s Hospital continue to investigate.
Again, this is a rare illness but if you notice any sudden weakness, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing, you need to see a doctor right away.