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Number of patients with paralyzing illness increasing, CDC reports

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the number of patients with acute flaccid myelitis has increased to 90, and it is investigating 252 potential cases.

The number of people with a paralyzing illness, which mostly targets children, has continued to increase as the CDC says it does not know the trigger and there is no way to treat it. Photo by Loren Kerns/Flickr

By Tauren Dyson, UPI

A mysterious condition that causes paralysis in children continues to baffle public health officials.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 90 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, in people in 27 states. The CDC is investigating 252 patients who may have AFM, a number that jumped up by 33 patients since last week.

"Classifying cases is important, as we try to figure out what triggers AFM, and we're working to expedite the process," Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in a press briefing on Tuesday. "But taking care of the patient is the number one priority for doctors and the health department."

The polio-like condition brings on respiratory illnesses between three and 10 days prior to the victim experiencing limb weakness. Some of those victims experience paralysis.

The majority of the AFM cases are children between 2 and 8 years old. About half of them are male.

No one has died of AFM in 2018, and about half of patients fully recover from the condition. However, Messonnier said, the other half suffer from permanent disability.

"There are currently no targeted therapies or interventions with enough evidence to endorse or discover their use," Messonnier said. "We recommend clinicians expedite neurology and infectious disease consultations to discuss treatment and management considerations."

Experts, and the CDC, still don't know what causes the condition.

The agency has established a task force of national experts to develop a research agenda, specifically to find the triggers for the condition and why it affects some children. The agency has been working since 2014, when the first cases popped up, to learn the causes and find treatments, including working with doctors who are treating AFM patients dating to 2014.

"What we need to sort out is what is the trigger for the AFM," Messonnier said.

"As a mom, I know what it's like to be scared for your child, and I understand parents want answers," she added. "CDC is a science-driven agency. Right now the science doesn't give us an answer."

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Health - U.S. Daily News: Number of patients with paralyzing illness increasing, CDC reports
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