Eight of nine Washington children hospitalized this fall with a mysterious, polio-like illness have been confirmed to have acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.
Eight of nine Washington children hospitalized this fall with a mysterious, polio-like illness have been confirmed to have acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. The number does not include a 6-year-old Bellingham boy who died this week, federal and state health officials reported.
The cause of the Oct. 31 death of Jonathan Daniel Ramirez Porter, known as Daniel, is still under investigation, but officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitely ruled out AFM, a neurological illness that causes limb weakness and specific types of lesions on the spinal cord.
“He is absolutely not AFM,” said Dr. Jim Owens, a pediatric neurologist at Seattle Children’s.
The boy’s grandmother, Mitzie De Guzman, said Daniel’s family suspects he may have had a reaction to multiple vaccines required for school admission, plus a flu shot, given Sept. 28, more than two weeks before the child fell ill on Oct. 15. He was admitted later to Seattle Children’s and originally included in the cluster of suspected AFM cases.
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“Hospital officials said ‘No, no, no,’ ” De Guzman said.
There’s no connection between AFM and vaccination, officials with the Washington State Department of Health have said. Serious or life-threatening vaccine reactions are very rare, according to the CDC.
The children confirmed with AFM are from five Washington counties, including three from King County, two from Franklin County and one each from Pierce, Whatcom and Snohomish counties. They range in age from 3 to 14.
The cause of AFM remains unknown. It has been associated with several viruses, including enteroviruses, adenoviruses and West Nile virus. Cases of AFM have been rising in the U.S. in 2016, with 89 cases reported in 33 states from January through September.
While there’s no specific action that can prevent AFM, the best precaution is to stop the illnesses associated with it. Frequent hand-washing, staying away from people who are sick and disinfecting surfaces are the best steps, health officials said.