Record count reported for mysterious paralyzing illness

AP graphic

This year has seen a record number of cases of a mysterious paralyzing illness in children, U.S. health officials said Monday.

Posted: Dec 10, 2018 2:48 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — This year has seen a record number of cases of a mysterious paralyzing illness in children, U.S. health officials said Monday.

It's still not clear what's causing the kids to lose the ability to move their face, neck, back, arms or legs. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after the children had a fever and respiratory illness.

No one has died from the rare disease this year, but it was blamed for one death last year and it may have caused others in the past.

What's more, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say many children have lasting paralysis. And close to half the kids diagnosed with it this year were admitted to hospital intensive care units and hooked up to machines to help them breathe.

The condition has been likened to polio, a dreaded paralyzing illness that once struck tens of thousands of U.S. children a year. Those outbreaks ended after a polio vaccine became available in the 1950s. Investigators of the current outbreak have ruled out polio, finding no evidence of that virus in recent cases.

The current mystery can be traced to 2012, when three cases of limb weakness were seen in California. The first real wave of confirmed illnesses was seen in 2014, when 120 were reported. Another, larger wave occurred in 2016, when there were 149 confirmed cases. So far this year, there have been 158 confirmed cases.

In 2015 and 2017, the counts were far lower, and it's not clear why.

The condition is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. Investigators have suspected it is caused by a virus called EV-D68. The 2014 wave coincided with a lot of EV-D68 infections and the virus "remains the leading hypothesis," said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, a member of a 16-person AFM Task Force that the CDC established last month to offer advice to disease detectives.

But there is disagreement about how strong a suspect EV-D68 is. Waves of AFM and that virus haven't coincided in other years, and testing is not finding the virus in every case. CDC officials have been increasingly cautious about saying the virus triggered the illnesses in this outbreak.

Indeed, EV-D68 infections are not new in kids, and many Americans carry antibodies against it.

Why would the virus suddenly be causing these paralyzing illnesses?

"This is a key question that has confounded us," said the CDC's Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who is overseeing the agency's outbreak investigation.

Experts also said it's not clear why cases are surging in two-year cycles.

Another mystery: More than 17 countries have reported scattered AFM cases, but none have seen cyclical surges like the U.S. has.

When there has been a wave in the U.S., cases spiked in September and tailed off significantly by November. Last week, CDC officials said the problem had peaked, but they warned that the number of cases would go up as investigators evaluated — and decided whether to count — illnesses that occurred earlier.

As of Monday, there were 311 illness reports still being evaluated.

This year's confirmed cases are spread among 36 states. The states with the most are Texas, with 21, and Colorado, 15.

But it's not clear if the state tallies truly represent where illnesses have been happening. For example, the numbers in Colorado may be high at least partly because it was in the scene of an attention-grabbing 2014 outbreak, and so doctors there may be doing a better job doing things that can lead to a diagnosis.

For an illness to be counted, the diagnosis must include an MRI scan that shows lesions in the part of the spinal cord that controls muscles.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926931

Reported Deaths: 9740
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1809132056
Ramsey749811054
Dakota68505591
Anoka64961589
Washington41119367
Stearns34021287
St. Louis29939416
Scott26281188
Wright26260226
Olmsted22677131
Sherburne19206130
Carver1687671
Clay12219108
Blue Earth1162171
Rice11578139
Crow Wing11318124
Chisago1005281
Kandiyohi9913108
Otter Tail9908130
Benton9174128
Beltrami8249100
Goodhue822699
Douglas7967101
Itasca779999
Mower740049
McLeod723384
Winona715158
Isanti711085
Steele695034
Morrison678681
Becker631675
Polk608987
Freeborn569947
Carlton552577
Mille Lacs539479
Lyon532961
Nicollet528561
Nobles527954
Pine521143
Cass505255
Todd496443
Brown473661
Le Sueur464736
Meeker437960
Martin391344
Waseca381433
Wabasha380110
Dodge366412
Hubbard357649
Roseau320532
Fillmore310115
Wadena306040
Redwood283845
Houston275317
Renville271651
Faribault261835
Sibley256017
Pennington254830
Kanabec254437
Cottonwood232933
Aitkin225052
Chippewa222043
Pope209910
Watonwan201121
Yellow Medicine189925
Koochiching179225
Rock178429
Swift174124
Stevens170211
Jackson162016
Clearwater159421
Marshall154822
Murray152911
Pipestone150929
Lake134124
Lac qui Parle124425
Wilkin122016
Mahnomen108314
Norman10579
Grant102410
Big Stone9585
Lincoln8915
Kittson74623
Red Lake71810
Traverse6086
Unassigned563124
Lake of the Woods5285
Cook3141

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 532160

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Unassigned64520
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
Ringgold78429
Audubon77617
Adams5869
Rochester
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 13° Lo: 4°
Feels Like: -4°
Mason City
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 14° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: -6°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
wxIcon
Hi: 11° Lo: 4°
Feels Like: 5°
Austin
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 12° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: -5°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
wxIcon
Hi: 16° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: 5°
A day to stay inside
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Full Forecast 12/6/21

Image

Oxbow Park Gets Improvements

Image

Research continues on Omicron and treatments 4

Image

Sean's Weather 12/6

Image

Sean's Weather 12/6

Image

MN DOC offering a $5,000 hiring bonus

Image

United Way second annual holiday light contest

Image

Asking Rochester residents about government surveillance

Image

Reviewing public safety camera policy

Image

Santa Run

Community Events