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Child in Clark County diagnosed with polio-like illness

Posted: 12:01 PM, Oct 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-28 12:25:50-05

The Southern Nevada Health District received notification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirming the first case of Acute Flaccid Myelitis in a child in Clark County. 

The Health District will not be releasing identifying information related to individual cases of the polio-like illness. More than 60 cases of the condition have been reported nationwide

AFM is a rare but serious condition. It affects the nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord called gray matter, which can cause the muscles and reflexes in certain parts of the body to become weak. AFM, or neurologic conditions like it, have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders. It can be a complication following a viral infection. 

This condition is not new; however, the CDC has been investigating AFM since case reports increased in 2014.

The Health District will continue to work with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health and the CDC to investigate any additional suspect cases of AFM. Cases will be reported once confirmation is received through the CDC.

Symptoms of AFM include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs, sometimes following a respiratory illness. Seek medical attention right away if anyone develops these symptoms. Other symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids
  • Facial droop or weakness
  • Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech

Although the cause of most AFM cases is undetermined, the CDC advises that it is important to practice disease prevention steps to avoid infections and to stay healthy:

  • Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home when sick
  • Update and remain current on all immunizations
  • Use appropriate insect repellent to protect against mosquito bites

If parents see potential symptoms of AFM in their child (for example, if he or she is not using an arm), they should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

AFM can be diagnosed by examining a person's nervous system, taking an MRI scan, and testing the cerebral spinal fluid. It is important that tests are done as soon as possible after someone develops symptoms. 

While there is no specific treatment for AFM, doctors may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.