(CNN) – More children have been diagnosed with acute myelitis, the polio-like lung disease, according to figures released on Monday…
(CNN) – More children have been diagnosed with acute myelitis, the polio-like lung disease, according to figures released on Monday by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
There have now been 106 confirmed cases by AFM in 29 states this year, according to CDC, an increase of 16 since last week. Three cases of AFM have been confirmed in Alabama.
There are also 167 possible cases of the disease, an increase of five from the previous week.
Since 2014 there have been 430 confirmed cases of the rare disease and 90% have been children, according to CDC.
AFM is a rare disease affecting the nervous system, especially the spinal cord gray matter, causing muscle weakness and sudden paralysis. There is a spectrum of how children can be affected: Some regain the use of their paralyzed extremities, while others are paralyzed from the neck and can only breathe with the help of a fan.
There is no cure and no vaccine. 19659002] There is also no known cause. Although several neurologists who advise on CDC say they are sure that an enterovirus – the same virus family that causes polio – is most likely to blame, CDC says there is still a wide network.
CDC’s doctor Nancy Messonnier said last week that the agency is considering the possibility that a contagious pathogen causes AFM but added that “we broaden our hypotheses”.
When asked if a toxin or vaccines could trigger AFM, Messonnier, head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, responded that “we do not rule out anything at this point”.
About three to ten days before paralysis, almost all children who developed AFM experienced a viral disease with symptoms like fever and cough, CDC reported last week.
Viral diseases are very common in children, and therefore it is not clear why only a relatively small number develops AFM. Even in the same family, several siblings can develop the same cold symptoms, but only one becomes paralyzed.
In a CNN story last month, several of CDC’s medical consultants and parents of sick children criticized the agency for being too slow to respond to the outbreak.
Messonnier said last week that the agency had funded state health care departments to increase medical awareness in identifying cases, increased its network of neurologists to help with and confirm cases and established a national expert AFM working group
CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund also said last week that the agency had assigned 14 officials from the Epidemic Intelligence Service – known as “disease detectives” – to help review reports on AFM cases.
“As a mother, I can certainly understand why parents are worried. I’m worried about this increase in AFM,” said Messonnier.