The other case of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, occurred in August, and four others are under investigation in MA. Only one death has been reported, which involved an AFM illness reported in 2017. The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure, which can happen when the muscles needed to breathe become weak from the disease. Other symptoms may include trouble moving the eyes, drooping eyelids or facial droop and weakness.
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Since officials have been unable so far to determine how the disease spreads, they are starting to count suspected cases as well as confirmed to better anticipate increases over the coming months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 62 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM.
Doctors say that most of the reported cases of AFM involve those under the age of 18.
"However, the CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every child with confirmed AFM", he told Healthline in an email. A seventh case has been "clinically diagnosed", but remains under review by the CDC.
"In this case, there's no connection between the affected individuals", said Pastore y Piontti.
"That's when children can really deteriorate and end up on a ventilator", Narula explains. It's the first such case at the hospital. So far in 2018, there have been 62 confirmed cases of the disease, an increase from a year ago.
Once diagnosed, some patients have recovered quickly, but some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care, Messonnier said. He says he has had very good outcomes in 14 of the 15 patients; the one girl who did not regain full function had "a suboptimal result, but [her parents are] happy she got something back".
The CDC says disease prevention steps should be followed, including staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and using mosquito repellant.
Some children may have mild symptoms, but AFM doesn't just sneak up on its victims. "Most of the people who get sick have had a viral disease and then it comes after that generally but there's a great deal of research that needs to be done on this".
Viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders are among the suspected causes of the illness, which often begins with fever, respiratory issues and muscle weakness.
At this point, doctors aren't sure how the viruses cause acute flaccid myelitis. Once damaged, such nerves don't regenerate.