There is an unknown virus that causes the brain to swell and may cause limb paralysis. It is spreading within the States. Getting informed about the sickness and how to best prevent it can possibly help your family avoid contracting it.

Cold, Flu, Other Virus?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported on November 1st that there have been 89 confirmed cases (mostly children) of AFM this year so far within 33 states. The illness was first observed in 2014, where there were 120 cases in 34 states. In 2015, the number of patients hospitalized decreased to under 30 in 16 states. Horribly, it seems as if AFM is making a comeback.
AFM is a syndrome, which stands for Acute Flaccid Myelitis. AFM is linked to particular germs including: West Nile, enteroviruses, and the virus that cause the common cold. Unfortunately, an otherwise healthy 6-year old boy from the Seattle area just died from the virus.
If a person develops AFM, he/she can have an abnormal reaction to even something as ordinary as a chest cold. The specific trigger is currently unknown, but scientists and infectious disease doctors aren’t ruling out anything.

What Does AFM Do?

Medical experts are quick to point out AFM’s symptoms having a likeness to those associated with polio. Both illnesses target the nervous system. In many cases, the virus can cause the brain to swell. Additionally, the spinal cord becomes inflamed and symptoms of weakness in the limbs, paralysis, and respiratory distress may occur.

A Rare Occurrence

Judging by the small numbers of those afflicted with the virus as compared to the US population, the illness would still be considered “rare.” However, a professor at John Hopkins University, Dr. Michael Milstone, admits that AFM is “scary.” It’s a polio-like sickness that can show up in otherwise healthy children.
Milstone’s prevention advice is to keep your children’s immune system boosted with proper rest, diet, and exercise. Always wash hands with soap and water. And avoid contact with others who are sick.

Other Things to Know

A spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Health revealed some pertinent information this week. They have identified nine cases in Washington, and none of them share a common infection or a link to one another.
There is also no evidence of a link between any vaccinations and the virus. Whether vaccinated or not, it has no bearing on whether it increases or decreases your risk for contracting AFM.

What Can You Do?

Take Milstone’s advice and stay as healthy as possible. Also, keeping hands clean is the most significant way to avoid contracting germs. Continue to vaccinate your children for deadly or disabling diseases.
If your child starts to show signs of weakness in the limbs, keep an eye out. Chances are it’s just lethargy. But if your kid has a cold and appears to have unusual symptoms like a limp or trouble holding his arms up, have a visit with your pediatrician to be on the safe side.
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