Rare polio-like disease reported in Ohio: 5 things you need to know

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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What You Need to Know: Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Health officials have confirmed that Ohio has one case of the rare, polio-like illness known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), according to our media partners at WBNS-TV.

The Ohio Department of Health said their lone case was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further details, such as the location of the confirmed case, were not released by the department.

So, what is it? AFM is a rare neurological condition that affects the nervous system and spinal cord, causing sudden limb weakness or paralysis.

Here are five other things you need to know:

1. SPREADING CASES The CDC announced this week that there have been 62 confirmed cases in 22 states, with Ohio being one of them. CDC officials say they haven't found the cause of the illness, though a virus is suspected.

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2. NO TREATMENT About 90 percent of the cases are children who have suffered muscle weakness or paralysis, including in the face, neck, back or limbs. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness. There is no specific treatment for the disorder, whose confirmed cases have seen a significant increase this year.

3. RARE CONDITION This condition is not new, but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new. Still, CDC estimates  that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year.

4. POTENTIALLY DEADLY The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure that can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak. This can require urgent ventilator support (breathing machine). In very rare cases, it is possible that the process in the body that triggers AFM may also trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death, according to the CDC.

5. IMMEDIATE ATTENTION Parents are urged to seek medical care if their child shows symptoms of the disease, and health providers can relay reports to public health authorities. Symptoms include facial weakness, difficulty moving eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

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