According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 60 cases of the polio-like paralysis affected children across 22 US states over the past few weeks. Now, this rare, polio-like paralysis affects kids in Canada, as reported by Toronto health officials.
“I can confirm that since September, we have certainly seen an increase of patients with muscle weakness who also had a preceding viral illness. These symptoms are typical of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), and increases of similar cases have been reported by many other North American pediatric centers,” announced Dr. Jeremy Friedman from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Unfortunately, US and Canadian health officials have no clue on what triggers this mysterious condition. They also don’t know if more children would be affected by this strange illness.
“Fewer than five cases have been reported from January to August 2018, which is the latest data we have available. For 2018, the observed number of cases is within the normal range,” said Anna Maddison from Health Canada.
Rare and Mysterious Polio-Like Paralysis Affects Kids In Canada, After Raising Concerns Across the US
This strange polio-like paralysis, also dubbed as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), affects a region of the spinal cord known as the anterior horn which is responsible for movement. AFM symptoms include limbs paralysis, drooping of the face, eye movement difficulties, and speech problems. In severe cases, it causes breathing difficulties which could be fatal.
“I can’t provide specific patient information, but I can tell you that AFP typically affects patients under the age of 15,” said Dr. Friedman. “We know from past experience that the prognosis and long-term effects of AFP can vary: Some patients recover fully, and others experience a spectrum of long-term and even permanent effects,” he added.
“In case children develop weakness of a limb, especially in the context of cold-like symptoms or other viral symptoms, they should see their health-care provider immediately,” Dr. Friedman concluded.