Sixth Washington child hospitalized with mysterious illness, health officials say

Henrietta Strickland
October 12, 2018

"Your typical 2-year-old, before this she was running around telling knock-knock jokes and getting into trouble", said Julia's mother, Katie Payne, who added that the girl's first symptoms resembled those of a common cold. But shortly thereafter, odd and frightening symptoms, such as limb weakness, face drooping and difficulty talking or swallowing, set in. In particular, the condition can cause weakness in the arms and legs along with loss of muscle tone and problems with reflexes.

According to data obtained Thursday from the Texas Department of State Health Services, one case of acute flaccid myelitis has been reported in Harris County and another case has been reported in Galveston County.

Specialists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control will confirm the diagnoses. They had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week before developing symptoms of AFM.

However, it can be hard to detect how patients actually get AFM.

The CDC says it got information on 362 cases of the illness in the US from August 2014 through August 2018.

The condition is not new, but officials started to see a rise in cases in 2014.

Indeed, there has been an uptick in cases of AFM across the country.

At Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, physicians are treating some of the six Minnesota cases.

In the past, Minnesota may only see one case in a year.

Nine cases of AFM were reported in Washington state in 2016.

There have been 38 confirmed cases in 16 states so far. Its origins are a mystery, but officials say a virus can cause some cases.

Acute flaccid myelitis is thought to happen after someone contracts a virus, like a poliovirus, West Nile virus, or adenovirus, the CDC says. The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found. CDC specialists will make the final determination if these cases are AFM.

In previous years, cases of AFM in Colorado and elsewhere have been positive for a different enterovirus, EV-D68.

Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth has diagnosed three patients with AFM in 2018. What causes it is unknown, possibly a virus, but doctors just don't know. You can reduce the chance of mosquito bites by using insect repellent and keeping kids indoors during times when mosquitos are prevalent.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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