Children’s Hospital Confirms 3 Cases Of Acute Flaccid Myelitis, A Mysterious Polio-Like Illness, In Pittsburgh

Children’s Hospital Confirms 3 Cases Of Acute Flaccid Myelitis, A Mysterious Polio-Like Illness, In Pittsburgh
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Illness is scary, especially when it threatens our children. We want our loved ones to be safe from harm and our children  to avoid even the mildest of colds, so when we hear news of a mysterious illness paralyzing children we are certainly bound to grow scared! No matter how we hate it, however, three separate cases of an illness likened to polio have been confirmed in Pittsburgh. The illness has partially paralyzed children and is currently being called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM). Here is what you should know! (1, 2)

Acute Flaccid Myelitis Affecting Pittsburg

The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC confirmed that three children have been suspected of suffering from a strange illness, acute flaccid myelitis, and were being treated at that hospital. According to the hospital, “The patients are currently undergoing diagnostic procedures and treatment. Isolation protocols and infection control procedures are in place and we’re working with the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department to further monitor and evaluate the patient conditions.”  (2, 3)

According to reports, the disease directly affects the body’s nervous system, causing weaknesses in the body’s arms and legs, and the spinal cord is specifically affected. The symptoms strongly resemble that of polio, but it is also quite unlike polio in other symptoms, and there is no known vaccine. While it could possibly be caused by a virus, doctors simply don’t have the absolute answers as to what triggers the disease–and neither do they have a cure. According to Dr. Kevin Messacar, a doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, “This is a very uncommon complication of a virus so many people may be infected but very few get this rare neurologic complication.” (1, 2, 3)

Dr. Amaran Moodley, employed for the Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, says, “There’s a sudden onset of weakness in the arm, leg, face, or the muscles that help us swallow and that we use to speak.” Additional symptoms include weakness of the limbs, dropping of the face, trouble swallowing, trouble speaking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness starts as a common cold only to later partially paralyze children. The only treatment doctors currently have available for the disease is making efforts to alleviate these symptoms and restore some type of comfort to the patient. Due to the seriousness of the illness, AFM is apparently raising some serious red flags with the researchers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

History of AFM

Reported instances of AFM date all the way back to 2014, but there could be instances of the disease long before that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that they have information on well over 300 cases of this illness since 2014 alone and they have all occurred in different parts of the nation. Multiple states have seen outbreaks of this strange disease, and the health department of Minnesota has reported six cases of the illness in the last month alone! (1, 6)


Michael Young, a man living in Minnesota who is the father of a 4-year-old diagnosed with AFM, “We were definitely in that place of not knowing where it was going to stop or how bad it was going to get.” According to Elaine Young, the little boy affected by AFM’s mother, “It’s just been so sad. I’m part of a Facebook group, and every morning I would see a new case and just start crying.” The disease is scary, and understandably so–especially for parents of young children. If your child is experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, be sure to take them to a doctor immediately in order to get a diagnosis and receive treatment. (1, 3)



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