A Mysterious, Paralyzing Illness in Kids Is Worrying U.S. Health Officials: New Report

(NEW YORK) — One morning last fall, 4-year-old Joey Wilcox woke up with the left side of his face drooping. It was the first sign of an unfolding nightmare. Three days later, Joey was in a hospital intensive care unit, unable to move his arms or legs or sit up. Spinal taps and other tests failed to find a cause. Doctors worried he was about to lose the ability to breathe. “It’s devastating,” said his father, Jeremy Wilcox, of Herndon, Virginia. “Your healthy child can catch a cold — and then become paralyzed.” Joey, who survived but still suffers some of the effects, was one of 228 confirmed victims in the U.S. last year of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, a rare, mysterious and sometimes deadly paralyzing illness that seems to ebb and flow on an every-other-year cycle and is beginning to alarm public health officials because it is striking more and more children. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it may bear similarities to polio, which smoldered among humans for centuries before it exploded into fearsome epidemics in the 19th and 20th centuries. Fauci, who published a report about the disease Tuesday in the journal mBio, said it is unlikely AFM will become as bad as polio, which struck tens of thousands of U.S. children annually before a vaccine became available in the 1950s. But he warned: “Don’t assume that it’s going to stay at a couple of hundred cases ev...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized illness medical onetime Source Type: news

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