Mysterious Disease Hits Over 50 Children Across America

| by Zara Zhi
McKenzie AndersenMcKenzie Andersen

A mysterious illness which paralyzed more than 120 around the country in 2014 is on the rise again.

According to the CDC, “Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare illness that anyone can get. It affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. AFM can result from a variety of causes, including viral infections.”

Symptoms are similar to a common cold and can worsen dramatically, leaving the child’s body paralyzed within days. Young victims of AFM also need a ventilator to breathe.

Since August 2014, the CDC has received a surge in reports of people with AFM across the U.S. for which no reason could be found. The CDC says, “We continue to receive reports of sporadic cases of AFM. From January 1 to August 31, 2016, a total of 50 people in 24 states across the country were confirmed to have AFM.”

Scientists do not know what causes AFM, or what activates paralysis in the arms and legs after contracting the illness, according to the Daily Mail.

There is no precise treatment or cure for AFM and patients work with doctors on an individual basis to recuperate the use of their limbs.

“My concern is that we are seeing a trend now in 2016 that mirrors what we saw in 2014,” Dr. Teri Schreiner, of the Children's Hospital Of Colorado, told NBC News. 

Five-year-old Braden Scott, from Houston was diagnosed with AFM in July. The boy has remained in the hospital since then and still needs a ventilator.

His parents, however, are optimistic because their son has recently begun sitting up again.

“He was a regular kid a few months ago. It seems like it was just yesterday, but at the same time, I can't really remember what his actual voice sounds like,” his mother, Rachel, wrote in an update.

Over the course of one weekend in July, Carter Roberts, 3, of Chesterfield, Virginia, became paralyzed from the nose down. Carter can move only the left side of his face and a toe, and can blink and stick his tongue out.

“I got to hear him talk and he said just a handful of words and as a mom, it was the sweetest sound ever,” she told NBC News.

“I wake up and am hopeful every day that he's going to make some progress. It's hard not a feel a little bit robbed because this happened so quickly, but it was just a virus.”

McKenzie Andersen was 6 when she was diagnosed with the disease in 2014.

“Within 12 days she was paralyzed from the neck down, on a ventilator to breathe for her. She was left with her left hand and her feet and toes that move,” her mother told The Washington Post.

“How do you ever wrap your brain around the fact that she got a cold, and now she's a quadriplegic on a ventilator? It's a nightmare you never wake up from.”

Sources: CDCDaily Mail, NBC NewsThe Washington Post / Photo credit: Andersen Family via Daily Mail

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