(CNN) – This year, more than half of all US states have confirmed or suspected cases of acute limp myelitis, which may cause polio-like illness that can cause paralysis and, above all, children, according to a new one CNN analysis.
CNN has obtained health offices in every state; 48 states responded, plus the District of Columbia. Of these, 30 states said they had cases that were confirmed, suspected or investigated – including 15 states that said they had confirmed cases in 2018.
In total, CNN found 47 confirmed cases and 49 others suspected or investigated, a total of 96.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which publish only confirmed figures, report that 1
CNN found that Colorado had 14 confirmed cases, more than any other state, followed by Texas at eight and Minnesota at six.
States reporting confirmed cases include Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.
States investigating suspicious cases or cases include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Washington.
Acute flaccid myelitis, also called AFM, is a rare but serious disorder affecting the nervous system, with particular attention to the gray matter of the spinal cord. The CDC estimates that this affects less than one in every one million people in the country every year.
The agency has seen an increase in cases since August 2014. Although the cause in most cases remained a mystery, the 2014 leap coincided with "a national outbreak of severe respiratory disease in people caused by Enterovirus D68" was not found in all patients according to CDC.
Other enteroviruses have also been found in patients with AFM. For example, 11 of Colorado's AFM cases tested positive for EV A71 this year, a rare type of enterovirus not normally seen in the US, but in Asia and other parts of the world, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.
"The most common etiology is probably a viral infection that starts the process, and there are probably several different viruses that can cause acute flaccid myelitis," Dr. Samuel Dominguez, medical director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Children's Hospital Colorado.
In addition to viruses, possible causes may include environmental toxins and genetic disorders after the CDC, and "it can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many of the same symptoms as other neurological diseases." It is not a notifiable disease in all states.
Symptoms may include sudden weakness of the limbs, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, loss of sight and eyelids, difficulty in moving the eyes, difficulty in swallowing, slurred speech and, in the most severe cases, breathing difficulties, the CDC said. What happens to patients down the line is unclear; Some recover quickly while others need care.
There is no specific treatment for AFM, but treatments that have been tried include immunoglobulin replacement therapy, corticosteroids, plasma exchange and antiviral therapy, according to the National Institutes of Health.
"This is a relatively uncommon syndrome, so I think that should be reassuring for people," Dominguez said. "This is probably a rare complication of a common virus."
Copyright 2018 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.