More than half of all states are reporting cases of acute flaccid myelitis or AFM that causes polio-like symptoms in children. University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Marc Rupp say Nebraska is among the states dealing with this illness.
Dr. Rupp says, “We have had two cases in Nebraska that are suspected. One in Douglas County and one is in western Nebraska. It is a mysterious disease. It has some aspects of being infectious as there are clusters of it. It appears to be seasonal but we don’t know what causes it and there is no effective treatment.”
Most of the victims are young children around four years of age. AFM typically shows up in late summer and early fall. The first cases were diagnosed in 2014. It showed up again in 2016. Symptoms typically include a sudden onset of paralysis in one or more limbs. It can also cause difficulty in swallowing, breathing and eye movement. Dr. Rupp says some of these children have long lasting paralysis while others recover or partially recover.
Since there is no cure, Dr. Rupp says the treatment now is supportive care and getting these kids into physical therapy as soon as possible so they can maintain the function of those limbs.
Dr. Rupp urges all Nebraskans to do their best to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a good diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercise and wash hands frequently. It is also important that everyone is current on their vaccinations, including a flu shot.