LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Investigators are trying to find out what’s causing a mysterious illness that’s paralyzing children. The rare condition is called Acute Flaccid Myelitis or AFM. Norton Children’s Hospital confirmed they treated three children with it over the past month.
With no vaccine or cure, there’s growing concern from parents as the illness spreads with confirmed cases in 22 states. Norton Children’s Hospital says the three cases they’ve seen were patients between the ages of three and eight.
“It’s a one in a million incident,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease specialist said. “Although parents are understandably concerned about what they’re hearing about now, we need to make sure parents are alert to it and aware of it, but don’t get necessarily frightened of it because it really is a rare occurrence.”
AFM typically begins with a fever and stomach problems. Symptoms progress to mimic polio and can cause muscles and reflexes to weaken suddenly. If parents notice something’s not right, don’t wait to get help.
"Not only for the good of the child but, so that it can be made known that we have another case and perhaps finds some patterns," Dr. Fauci said. "The CDC, the disease detectives, that are always trying to find connections will get a better feel when the cases are reported immediately."
As for the long-term effects of AFM are unclear too. Some children recover quickly, others are left with a disability that could be permanent. It’s important to note that while the symptoms of AFM are similar to polio, poliovirus is not the cause of any of the AFM cases confirmed by the CDC.
Until medical experts can solve this medical mystery, the best defense is wash your hands as often as you can, up to date on vaccinations, and with crowds with people sneezing keep children away from that to the extent that you possibly can.