Doctors may have found virus behind illness paralyzing children

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Doctors have long been puzzled by polio-like illness that's been causing paralysis in kids, but now that mystery may have finally been solved.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acute flaccid myelitis or AFM is a rare condition that causes inflammation in the spinal cord. Symptoms include facial and eyelid drooping, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

The U.S. had an outbreak of the disease in 2014, with 120 confirmed cases, and then again in 2016, with 149 people infected.

Though tests of their spinal fluid yielded nothing, patients with AFM tested positive for a respiratory virus known as enterovirus D68, reports KUNC.

Repeated experiments on infected mice showed that EV-D68 killed nerve cells in the spinal cord, which resulted in partial paralysis.

While the findings are significant and could help doctors figure out how to control the disease, many unanswered questions remain.

Direct evidence from infected human tissue is needed to officially confirm the link between the disease and the virus. Until such time, health officials are hoping there won't be another resurgence of the crippling illness.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis
2. Confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis in 2014 and 2016
3. EV-D68 found in respiratory systems of children with AFM
4. EV-D68 injected in mice caused paralysis after killing nerve cells in the spinal cord

VOICEOVER (in English):

"Acute flaccid myelitis or AFM is a rare condition that causes inflammation in the spinal cord. Symptoms include facial and eyelid drooping, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, and paralysis."

"The U.S. had an outbreak of the disease in 2014, with 120 confirmed cases, and then again in 2016, with 149 people infected."

"Though tests of their spinal fluid yielded nothing, patients with AFM tested positive for a respiratory virus known as enterovirus D68."

"Repeated experiments on infected mice showed that EV-D68 killed nerve cells in the spinal cord, which resulted in partial paralysis."

SOURCES:
KUNC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.kunc.org/post/colorado-researchers-home-cause-mystery-illness
https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/afm-surveillance.html
https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/about-afm.html