This is a scary situation, especially during flu season
A new virus that is being compared to polio may have reached Arkansas as it spreads across the country.
The Arkansas Department of Health reports that it is investigating five suspected cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis, a disease that attacks the spinal cord and nervous system and causes weakness or temporary paralysis in the arms and legs.
We’re seeing more cases than we have seen in the past, but it’s something to be aware of, not scared of,” Dr. Jose R. Romero said Tuesday.
Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) is grabbing the attention of specialists like Dr. Romero, the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. AFM is a virus that mostly affects young children. The average patient is 4 years old.
Romero said many physicians do not know about AFM because it is new and still rare. It was first tracked in 2014, so he wants parents and colleagues to better know what to look for.
“Early on, this looks like any other viral infection,” he said. “But the children begin to complain about weakness or inability to move an arm or a leg, and that really is the hallmark of the disease. That is, that’s the thing that draws attention to the child.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 386 confirmed cases of AFM had been reported between 2014 and September 2018, with most of those taking places during spikes in 2014 and 2016. It has confirmed 62 cases this year, with 65 more suspected cases being investigated in a spike that appears similar to the previous two.
Because of the seemingly unrelated symptoms, Dr. Romero said many parents do not understand the severity of their child’s illness.
“Parents will wait a day or two, thinking that they may have sprained their arm, or may have hurt their arm or their leg, Those children that aren’t able to move their extremities probably need to be seen sooner, rather than later.
“I mean, you know, how many kids a day do we see that have those symptoms and nothing ever happens? It’s just a matter of looking for the weakness that will occur if it is,” he said.