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Minnesota researcher finds a possible association between virus and acute flaccid myelitis



  An electron micrograph of a thin section of enterovirus D68
An electron micrograph of a thin section of enterovirus D68

A University of Minnesota researcher has identified a virus that is linked to a disease that can cause sudden paralysis in children.

Between September and November, state health officials learned that six Minnesota children suddenly had a weakness in their arms and legs. One of the children remains in the hospital, and all are still weak limbs, a report submitted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

Heidi Moline, chief pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, studied the cases of children diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis or AFM.

Moline said the virus, the enterovirus D68, was found in the cerebrospinal fluid of one of the six patients, "which helps to explain one of the causes of AFM and better characterize this disease."

She said the virus was common because of coughing or sneezing, and usually spikes every fall in autumn.

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"It was amazing to hear how parents went to bed the night before, felt well and showed no signs of illness or weakness in the morning, unable to brush their hair or the stairs go down, "Moline said.

According to the CDC report, the children all lived in various counties in Minnesota and had no contact to assume they had been infected. Moline said it was not clear why these children were getting along with AFM. All had fever or upper respiratory symptoms before the onset of weakness.

AFM is a rare disease that affects the gray matter area of ​​the spinal cord. This can lead to symptoms of sudden muscle weakness and occasional paralysis. At the time of the Minnesota cases, other cases of AFM have been reported in children elsewhere in the United States. The CDC began investigating the AFM in 2014 after reports of "a large number of cases"

the MPR News reporter, Nina Moini, had contributed to this report.


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