The Jetstream Journal

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Life Threatening Illness Poses Threat to Children

Doctors urge families to keep up to date on vaccinations to help prevent illness

Doctors urge families to keep up to date on vaccinations to help prevent illness

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The rare polio-like illness, Acute Flaccid Myelitis, has drastically increased in frequency and is frightening families across the United States. Children and teens from the ages of four to 18 years old are being affected.

AFM attacks the central nervous system and specifically targets the spinal cord. The central nervous system consists of functions that control the body and the mind. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, when AFM invades the central nervous system, the illness appears with symptoms such as weakness, facial drooping, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech and other negative side effects. Several families are concerned on how to handle the illness.

According to the Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) website, the treatment is not exactly known. Treating patients with AFM is different each time, depending on the severity. Therapies that can help with spinal cord inflammation include a high dose of IV steroids, IVIg and plasma exchange.

Scientific American stated that in 2014, over 100 children were left partially paralyzed.

The Washington Post was able to learn about a four year old named Camdyn Carr who has been fighting off AFM. The severity of his case has left him in the Kennedy Krieger Institute. AFM has weakened all of his muscles, which are causing his breathing to be difficult. Due to this, he has been on a breathing ventilator to support his lungs. This is an illness which the CDC and doctors are warning parents to be aware of for their children’s health.

The research done by the CDC has seen over years that there are moments of lows and highs of this epidemic. The statistics that are presented show that the major highs of AFM were in the years of 2014 and 2016. This year (2018) has been seen as similar to the years before. According to the CDC, on October 22, 2018, the amount of reported cases reached 62.

In Colorado Springs specifically, there has been a reported number of 14 cases that may possibly continue to grow. Hannah McNeill, who has been impacted by AFM, was interviewed by KRDO 13.

“It’s scary,” McNeill stated. “You don’t prepare yourself for it. I still don’t have all of my leg strength, which is why I’m in a wheelchair.”

As medical teams continue to work hard on finding problems that have coincided with AFM, they have noticed that its major cause is viruses such as the polio virus, west nile, and adenovirus. Slowly, progress has been made in taming the symptoms. Physical therapy has even opened itself up for children.

When asking school nurse Krista Rudd about her thoughts on AFM and the slow progress in the medical field, she described her own concerns and fears for children, including her own child’s health. She also explained her hope in finding treatments to help patients with AFM.

“The frustrating thing is that there is so much unknown and [medical teams] work furiously. Science moves so fast but can also move so slow,” Rudd stated.

AFM has been reported in 22 states and should be taken seriously. Doctors urge parents to watch their children’s health but not to panic. The CDC has information about AFM and can give background to help anyone impacted or concerned about AFM.

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/index.html.

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About the Writer
Summer Morse, Journalist

Hey! I am Summer Morse and I am a junior at AAHS. I love the outdoors as well as reading and writing. I love animals I have two dogs, two cats, two guinea...

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Life Threatening Illness Poses Threat to Children