SAN ANTONIO – It's the worst nightmare of a parent: having a sick child with a rare and serious illness. The Centers for Disease Control is increasingly interested in finding the cause and treatment of a polio-like disease called acute flaccid myelitis.
The CDC sets up a task force to investigate the disease. This year, more than 116 people in 31 states have been sick, the majority of whom are children. Colorado has the highest number of cases, followed by Texas.
Dr. Jon Crews, who treats pediatric infectious diseases at Children's Hospital, said that flaccid acute myelitis is a condition that affects the spinal cord and causes weakness of the arms or legs due to inflammation of the spinal cord.
"We always know more about the frequency of these incidents, but up to now, that gives one to two children in a million," said Crews.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services reported 17 confirmed and possible cases of flaccid acute myelitis this year. Bexar County has had no cases, but according to Crews, a few cases have been treated at the Children's Hospital in the last two years.
"Some children with AFM have a complete recovery. Others may have residual weakness in the arm or leg, "said Crews.
Since there is no known cause for the disease, there is no standard treatment, said Crews.
Some viruses are known to cause the disease, including enteroviruses such as poliovirus, EV-A71 and West Nile virus.
The teams invite parents to keep in mind the rarity of the disease. He added that parents should do what they usually do to keep their children healthy, for example by washing their hands regularly and informing them about their vaccines.
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