Acute Flaccid Myelitis outbreak hits several US States

Acute Flaccid Myelitis outbreak hits several US States

Polio has been vanquished from many countries around the world as many countries aim to eradicate the disease. While its end draws near a new and aggressive disease has started to appear.

The infection is called acute flaccid myelitis and it first appeared where Polio used to reign supreme, already infecting 127 people.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis: What, How, and Why?

AFM is one of the only diseases present in the US that is able to harm the spinal cord. The virus disrupts the nervous system wreaking havoc in the body. At first it affects muscles and reflexes, targeting the arms and legs and rending the patient immobile. It then moves to a key and vital area: the respiratory system. As the respiratory muscles begin to fail, the patient will start to breath with increasing difficulty as the virus progresses. In severe cases, the patient will lose the capacity to breathe alone and he or she may die from asphyxiation.

The virus is usually found among children, which are the most vulnerable targets, but it also spreads to adult persons.

Pay attention to the following possible symptoms:

  • General muscle weakness/reduced reflexes in the arms or legs
  • Problems with facial muscles, including drooping and especially dropping eyelids
  • Unusual difficulty when you try to move your eyes from one object to another
  • Unusual difficulty when swallowing
  • Speech problems, including slurred speech

While there is no known treatment at the moment, preventive Polio vaccines and proper defense against mosquito dramatically reduce the chance of infection.

Affected states

Over 127 cases have appeared this year, puzzling the Centre for Disease Control. Out of the 127 cases, 62 have been officially confirmed, with patients across 22 different states. Some of them are: Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, Minnesota and New York.

No official cause has been identified, but some researchers believe that AFM may be caused by Enteroviruses, which also spread meningitis and encephalitis.

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