This year over 50 cases of acute flaccid myelitis were reported on U.S. territory, CDC reported on Monday. Even though the number is not that high, it still represents a double increase compared to 2015 when only 21 patients were confirmed.
Acute flaccid myelitis has numerous presumed causes, including a wide range of enteroviruses which are ordinarily responsible for milder affections such as acute respiratory infections. However, if the enteroviruses manage to reach the child’s central nervous system, then the patient could experience more severe complications such as brain inflammation, or even paralysis.
Acute Flaccid Myelitis Symptoms
According to the CDC, AFM targets the nervous system, more specifically the spinal cord of the patient. Usually, the disease starts manifesting itself with a sudden weakness in the lower limbs. Then, the affected child starts losing his or her muscle tone and reflexes.
Children who are affected by the illness also experience facial droop, limb weakness, slurred speech, and difficulty while breathing or swallowing.
Other physical symptoms, including numbness, are rare, but in some instances, the patient did experience pain in their legs or arms.
Treatment and Prevention Methods
The CDC reported that there is no exact treatment for the disorder because researchers are still unsure what exactly causes the viral disease.
In the case in which you suspect that your child may be showing signs of AFM, you should contact a neurologist, as they are the most specialized doctors to treat the disorder.
The best prevention measures include regular hand washing, vaccination, and protection against mosquitos because recent research showed a link between acute flaccid myelitis and the West Nile virus.
The CDC urges parents to teach their children to properly wash their hands with soap and water and avoid any sorts of contact with sick individuals.
Moreover, parents are advised to clean the house with disinfectant, instruct children that they should wash their hands before and after eating, going to the bathroom, touching an animal, and blowing their nose.
Apart from the West Nile virus, which has been established as a probable cause of AFM, researchers also found links between the disorder and enteroviruses (both non-polio and polio) and adenoviruses.
Image source: Pixabay
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