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Polio-like disease creates a scare for Tri-State area parents

October 17, 2018 - 11:04 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A polio-like disease is creating a scare in the Tri-State area.

There have been several confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, in New Jersey over the past few years.

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In New York, health officials say there's a suspected case in a 3-year-old boy n Buffalo, and 39 children were found to have a virus that sometimes leads to AFM.

Nancy Messonier, director of the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases says there have been 62 confirmed cases nationwide, and another 65 suspected.

"We know that polio virus is not the cause of these AFM cases. CDC has tested every stool specimen frm the AFM patients, none of these specimens has tested positive for the AFM virus," she said.

She says AFM can be caused by other viruses, such as enterovirus and West Nile Virus, as well as environmental toxins and autoimmune disease.

AFM affects the nervous system and various muscles can become weak or paralyzed. If it affects the diaphragm, the patient will need a ventilator to breathe.

CBS New York reports, one little girl lost function in her right arm, after what started as a serious asthma attack.

“My husband that noticed her arm was kind of just hanging there,” Carlene Burns said.

The parents of 3-year-old Camden Stravers noticed something similar after their son came down with symptoms of the common cold.

“He stopped being able to support his head, his right arm function went away, and he couldn’t stand up,” said his father, Justin.

Medical experts say that if your child shows symptoms including a weak arm or leg, speech problems, or a stiff or wobbly neck, you should call a doctor immediately.

The CDC also says to look out for facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, or difficulty swallowing and slurred speech.

Some children recover from the disease completely, others are disabled for years. There is no specific treatment.