Hawaii among 11 states yet to confirm case of polio-like illness AFM

  • Through Friday, 193 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been confirmed in 39 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this Monday. On Dec. 10, the CDC reported 158 cases had been confirmed in 36 states. (CDC/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii remains among 11 states in the nation yet to confirm a case of acute flaccid myelitis.

Through Friday, 193 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been confirmed in 39 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this Monday. On Dec. 10, the CDC reported 158 cases had been confirmed in 36 states.

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The CDC cautioned that the 193 confirmed cases are among 349 reports that the CDC received of patients under investigation.

Texas has confirmed the most cases of AFM at 25 followed by Colorado with 16 cases and Ohio with 13 cases. Minnesota, Washington and New Jersey have each reported 10 cases of AFM this year.

The CDC has been monitoring and investigating an increasing number of cases of AFM since 2014. From August 2014 to Monday, 519 cases had been confirmed, most frequently among children. Hawaii has had no verified reports during that time period.

Acute flaccid myelitis is a rare condition that affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak, according to the CDC.

A virus, a genetic disorder, and environmental toxins are possible causes of AFM. The CDC, however, cautioned it hasn’t yet found a definitive case.

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Symptoms, health officials say, can be similar to those associated with poliovirus and West Nile and include facial and eyelid drooping, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, sudden limb weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes in the arms or legs. Poliovirus and West Nile virus may sometimes lead to AFM.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, but a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses, may recommend interventions on a case-by-case basis.

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