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Polio-like Virus Versus Polio

Updated on December 2, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

States Affected by AFM

Source

What is Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is the correct name for the polio-like virus that is spreading slowly and often reported on the news. There are only 90 cases so far in 2018, found in 27 states, but another 162 patients are being investigated. While this number seems small, it is growing each year since 2014, according to the CDC. AFM has occurred in 46 states and in Washington DC in past years.

Even though the number is small the effects of this disease are very serious for many people. AFM typically affects children with an age range from 5 to 20 years, and most of the time this disease occurs in the late summer of early fall of the year.

Symptoms of AFM

AFM affects the nervous system, which can cause paralysis. The gray matter of the spinal cord is specifically affected, and that will cause muscles and the reflexes in the body to weaken. There are some particular enteroviruses that can cause AFM, including enterovirus A71 (EV-A71 and EV-D68) and the West Nile virus.

Over 90% of patients with AFM begin with a mild respiratory disease, diarrhea or a fever that is consistent with a viral infection before the AFM symptoms begin. Most people recover from this illness, but the ones that do not recover have life-altering symptoms. There has been one death.

The actual symptoms of AFM include:

  • Most patients will have sudden onset of limb impairment
  • Extremity weakness
  • Some patients have both upper and lower motor neuron involvement
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Facial droop/weakness
  • Difficulty moving the eyes,
  • Difficulty with swallowing and slurred speech
  • Rare symptoms include numbness or tingling in the extremities or being
  • Unable to pass urine
  • Difficulty with breathing has happened in rare cases due to muscle weakness, which may require a ventilator

What is Acute Flaccid Myelitis

How a Diagnosis is Made

A neurologist uses a case by case basis to diagnose AFM and determine testing and treatment. Diagnosis is made with a careful exam of the spinal cord and nervous system, plus specific areas of muscle weakness. An MRI will show lesions on the spinal cord. Some blood work is ordered, a spinal tap to check the fluid around the brain and spinal cord, nerve reflexes will be checked and a nerve conduction may be ordered.

This disease has affected those who have not been vaccinated for polio, so the polio vaccination is not causing this disease. No true cause is known.

AFM Cases on a Yearly Basis

AML Treatments

Treatments obviously must be determined on an individual basis. The data for determining treatment is insufficient, but scientist are researching this disease. There is an AFM task force established to collaborate with the CDC to try and prevent and treat AFM.

Acute treatment includes IV steroids in high doses, IVIg and plasma exchange. The CDC has recommended that caregivers of children should discuss these treatments with their doctor. The goal is to reduce inflammation in the spinal cord.

Some Other treatment include:

  1. Intensive physical therapy
  2. Occupational therapy

Can You Prevent AFM?

While there is really no way to prevent AMF, the CDC recommended preventative measures:

  1. Get the polio vaccine
  2. Washing hands frequently
  3. Prevent mosquito bites by using a repellent for West Nile virus

Is AFM like Polio?

Polio is caused by the poliovirus, and a horrible, disabling disease. It has been completely eradicated in 80% of the world. People with polio have entered the US, but rarely, however, one traveler with polio can cause infection in a person that has not been vaccinated.

Polio is potentially deadly, causing lifelong paralysis with some people ending up in an iron lung. Polio is a very communicable disease among children, and it invades the brain and spinal cord. In the1950s, it was a very feared disease. Swimming pools were closed and windows sealed shut in the summer. Dr. Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine in 1951, then Dr. Albert Sabin discovered an oral vaccine in 1957.

The inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) has been given in the US since 2000. Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk could each rightfully claim credit for the near-eradication of polio as a one of the greatest accomplishments in the 20th century.

There is hope in dreams, imagination, and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality.

-- Dr. Jonas Salk

Kansas City Polio Survivor

In Summary

Even though the number of people with long term effects from acute flaccid myelitis are low, the seriousness of this disease needs to be respected. The number of patients could increase, and the fact that no one is not really sure what causes the disease is important. Hopefully, a cure will be in the near future.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2018 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi RTalloni, T

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 

    2 months ago from the short journey

    Thanks very much for this review of AFM. I have prayed for success in the research. People who refuse to vaccinate for polio have no idea what the disease does. Didn't they eventually find three types of poliovirus had shown up by the 80s and then find that a wild one had developed? There are people who put their children in harms way via chicken pox parties. Surely they do not/would not do this with these other preventable diseases?!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Alyssa, I think vaccinations are vry important also. I hope they found a csuse and a cure for this disease also. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Alyssa Nichol profile image

    Alyssa 

    5 months ago from Ohio

    This is so scary! I appreciate the information. This is part of the reason why I think it's so important for those kids who are able to get vaccinated. I do hope they are able to research AFM and find the cause.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Maria, You are right. I write more medical article than anything else. I hope they help people with questions. Thanks for your comments, as they are always appreciated.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    6 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

    You have never stopped being a nurse and remind us that nurses are the best teachers, dear Pamela.

    Thanks for the information and raising our awareness - especially the preventive measures we can all take.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Tim, I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. I am glad to know the childen you come into contact with have had their vaccines. I have much respect and admiration for you as well.

  • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

    Tim Truzy 

    6 months ago from U.S.A.

    Hi, Pamela,

    Informative and timely article. This AFM is a spooky, terrifying, and challenging disease. Being in contact with children a lot and speaking with their parents, we make sure they receive all of the proper vaccines, but where people gather, there is always potential for disease to spread.

    Thank you for increasing awareness of AFM.

    Much respect and admiration,

    Tim

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Aldene, I am old enough to remember my whole family going to my elementary school where we got the oral vaccine. I am hoping for a cure soon also. I appreciate your comments.

  • AMFredenburg profile image

    Aldene Fredenburg 

    6 months ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

    I am old enough to remember classmates who had contracted polio and had to wear braces on their legs. I also remember being among the first generation of kids to get first the Salk vaccine, then the Sabin vaccine, which stopped polio in its tracks. Let's hope researchers get a handle on AFM soon. Thank you for a valuable article on a serious medical issue.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    6 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    This is such a horrible disease. I hope a cure is found soon. Thank you for sharing the information, Pamela.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Nell Rose, I know this type of article is a bit depressing, but I think it is good to know about a new disease. Thanks for your comments.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    6 months ago from England

    That is horrible! I had never heard of it either. I just watched a bit of the video, but had to turn it off, its awful for that poor woman.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Bill, It is yuck and scary. Thanks for commenting.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 months ago from Olympia, WA

    Well that's scary stuff, isn't it? Never heard of it, so thanks for the information, Pam! Yuck!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Flourish, My father had whooping cough as a child, and I had measles where I had to stay in a dark bedroom for a few days. I thik vaccinations are important and there is not evidence that they are harmful or cause autism. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    6 months ago from USA

    It’s very frustrating that people will not vaccinate their kids against deadly diseases like polio. My uncle and aunt each came down with the disease back before there was a vaccine and if their suffering could have been prevented surely a vaccine would have been chosen. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. So sad.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Patricia, At least this disease is rare so I pray Heston Wayne will enjoy improved health. I appreciate you sharing you concerns and comments. Angels will be coming to you aso.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    6 months ago from sunny Florida

    This is so very scary. My Heston Wayne (grandson) is already compromised so this scary strain gives us pause. Thank you for sharing so all may know.Angels on the way.ps

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