BUFFALO, N.Y. — Doctors at Oishei Children's Hospital are looking into a suspected case of Acute flaccid myelitis — a rare polio-like condition that causes partial paralysis in kids.
They gave an update on the child's condition at a news conference Friday morning.
Doctors say the patient — identified only as a 3-year-old boy named Kameron — first came to Children's in mid September with a runny nose and congestion. A fever followed then he lost the use of his lower left leg.
"He couldn't stand on his own. He couldn't walk without assistance," said Mark Hicar, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at UBMD Pediatrics. "After steroids were started, he did show improvement in 48 hours where he could at least stand on his own, pull up and stand. Since that time he hasn't had much progression and has waxing and waning days."
The hospital is now working with the health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to administer testing to confirm if the child does indeed have AFM.
So far this year, the CDC says there have been 38 confirmed cases of AFM across 16 states.
The illness causes a weakening of the nerves and resembles polio.
There is no cure, and some children have long-term disabilities because of it. Others make a full recovery or close to it.
Though AFM is rare, it is connected to different viruses that normally just cause common cold symptoms.
"[AFM] occurs after a viral illness of some sort, typically a runny nose, congestion, normally viral illness of childhood," said Hicar.
In rare cases, the virus leads to sudden paralysis.
"Sometimes you will have a very sudden onset of disuse of an arm or leg, basically where it will become a floppy limb. It usually gets worse in two to four days then plateaus. It generally gets better over a long period of time, but some people have a prolonged problem with that limb," said Hicar.
According to the CDC, there's been an increase in cases since 2014, but to put things into perspective, still less than one in a million people get AFM each year.
Experts don't know who's at a greater risk for contracting AFM or why. They also don't know the long-term effects or why some people fully recover while others have lasting paralysis.
Doctors recommend keeping up to date on vaccines and simple hand washing to help stop the spread of germs that at the very least can make you sick...and in extreme cases, cause AFM.