The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed frustration and concern Tuesday about a puzzling surge in cases of polio-like paralysis, mostly in children, being reported across the country this year.
They also wanted to raise awareness about the condition so parents can seek medical care if their child develops symptoms, and so physicians can quickly relay reports of the potential illness to the CDC.
Most of these cases began in August and September, and 90 percent are in children, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news conference today.
Mary Anne Jackson, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and interim dean of the school of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said numerous patients she saw were healthy children before falling ill with the disease.
The long-term effects are unknown. Doctors at Children's have not seen an AFM patient needing a ventilator this year, but have treated such cases in the past, Benson said. Although it is too early to understand how the current season compares to previous ones, she noted, the nation is "on track with what was seen in 2014 and 2016" and will probably have the same number of cases.
The peculiar illness causes weakness in the limbs, loss of muscle tone, and may also result in neck pain, headache, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and in the worst of cases, respiratory failure.
CNN has reported that this year, more than half of all USA states have had confirmed or possible cases, including North and SC.
20, the CDC had confirmed 38 cases in 16 states, which aren't required to report AFM cases to the CDC. "So I think that should be reassuring to people", Dominguez said.
The cause is a mystery but the CDC and other officials have ruled out polio and West Nile virus.
The agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing this condition or the reasons they may be at higher risk.
She said that CDC has tested every stool specimen from AFM patients. The disorder has been diagnosed in children who have received some of their recommended vaccinations and in unvaccinated children, she said. No pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.
Although the disease appears to target a certain age group, federal disease experts do not know who is likely to get acute flaccid myelitis.
The CDC says disease prevention steps should be followed, including staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and using mosquito repellant.
It shows distinct abnormalities of the spinal cord gray matter on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The CDC is not releasing a list of the 22 states with confirmed and suspected cases because of privacy issues. Nor can they explain why only a handful of infected children developed AFM.
The CDC referred calls to individual state health departments.
States are reporting their cases to the CDC, Messonnier said.