Mysterious Polio-like illness in children seen right here in Northeast Ohio

Mysterious Polio-like illness in children seen right here in Northeast Ohio

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released new numbers that show a spike in Acute Flaccid Myelitis this year.  According to the CDC, there have been 50 cases reported throughout the United States from January to August of this year. Some cases have been seen here in Northeast Ohio.

The mysterious polio-like illness can be found in adults, but it's mainly children who are affected by it.

"It's a terrible disease, but It's not necessarily something that we haven't seen before," says Dr. Frank Esper, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, "Every child gets a viral illness - sometimes many times throughout the year, but in certain circumstances a child will actually become become very weak or paralyzed after having this virus."

Dr. Esper says he always sees one or two patients every year, with Acute Flaccid Myelitis, but so far, he says, he is not necessarily seeing a spike right now.

"We see cases here every year - not necessarily always identified to a particular virus. More times than not we're not ever figure out what virus it is," added Esper.

Dr. Esper is quick to point out that the virus season has just begun, so there is potential for the number of Acute Flaccid Myelitis cases to rise in the coming months.

The good news is, that for many patients, the paralysis that comes along with the illness is temporary.

"A lot of them do have substantial improvements over the first several months - whether they go back completely back to normal or they see a 90 percent improvement, but then that last 10 percent takes a lot longer to resolve, it's case by case," said Dr. Esper.

The way to protect yourself is simple: wash your hands.

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