A strange new disease has reportedly infected over 100 children across 34 states since August 2014. Only one has recovered. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an update on the condition, which they’ve termed “Acute Flaccid Myelitis.”
The chief symptom of the disease is an unexplained weakness or paralysis of an arm or leg. Roughly two-thirds of children with AFM have reported improvements, a third show none, and only one of the 103 children with the disease has recovered completely.
“It’s unsatisfying to have an illness and not know what caused it,” Dr. Samuel Dominguez, an epidemiologist and an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, told The New York Times. Dominguez is leading the Hospital’s investigation into AFM, and while they believe they have a possible link to a respiratory disease that swept the country last fall – enterovirus 68 – it’s still possible that the virus “has nothing to do with their neurological problem,” he said.
Researchers last week said they found no enteroviruses or pathogens in the spinal fluid of 71 patients. “We are aware of only two published reports of children with neurologic illnesses confirmed as EV-D68 infection from cerebrospinal fluid testing,” the CDC said in their statement.
Researchers at the Children’s Hospital, the University of Texas, and Johns Hopkins are all searching for new links, but these studies are still in the enrollment or funding stages. Meanwhile, roughly three new cases of AFM are currently being reported to the CDC per week.
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