One morning, last fall, 4-year-old Joey Wilcox woke up from the left side of her downward face.
This was the first sign of a nightmare. Later, Joy was in an intensive care unit at the hospital, unable to move his arms or legs or sit. Spine spine and other tests failed to find the cause. Doctors are concerned that he is going to lose his ability to breathe.
"This is a devastation," said his father, Jeremy Wilcox, of Herndon, Virginia. "Your healthy baby can get cold – and then become paralyzed."
Joy, who survived but still suffering some of these effects, was one of the 228 confirmed victims in the United States last year of acute lethal myelitis or ASM, a rare, mysterious and sometimes deadly paralyzing illness that seems to cast and flow in every other cycle of the year and begins to alarm health officials because it affects more and more children.
Dr. Anthony Fowachi, chair of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he may have a similarity to poliomyelitis, an age among people for centuries before he exploded in terrible epidemics in the 1
Fauchi, who published a disease report on Tuesday in the mBio magazine, said that it is unlikely that AFM will become as bad as the poliomyelitis that affects tens of thousands of American children each year before the vaccine became available in the 1950s. to assume that he is going to stay in several hundreds of cases every two years. " But the size and structure of the US outbreaks were more pronounced. More than 550 Americans were impressed in this decade. More than 90 percent were children, most of whom were aged 4, 5 or 6 years old.
Most had chilly disease and fever, it seemed, survived it, and then went down into paralysis. In some cases, this began in a small way – for example, with a thumb that did not suddenly move. Some people continued to lose their ability to eat or breath.
Many families say that their children have restored at least some movements in the affected limbs, but the history of complete recovery is unusual. Public health officials can not say how much they have fully cured, in part or in general, or how many have died, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that death is rare. was identified more than 55 years ago and may have mutated to become more dangerous. But they have not yet done so.
And although doctors have launched a series of procedures alone or in combination – steroids, antiviral drugs, antibiotics, blood purification – the CDC says there is no clear evidence that they work. 19659002] Many parents say that when they first brought their child to the emergency department, they quickly realized that doctors are also at sea.
"Everyone is desperate for a magical affair," said Rachel Scott, Tomb, Texas, whose son Braden developed the AFM in 2016 and recovered somewhat after intense physiotherapy but still can not move his right arm and has problems with swallowing and moving the neck.
More experts agree that physiotherapy does
"These children can continue to recover very slowly, year after year. … This is due to how much they are doing, says Dr. Benjamin Greenberg of the Southwestern UT Medical Center in Dallas, one of the country's leading experts.
Wilcox, father of Joey, said that his son made tremendous improvements. this way. Joey can run and use his hands. However, the mild tone is weak in the right leg and shoulders, and it still has a person's left paralysis. "He can not completely smile," – said his father.
Other histories are more tragic.
Son Katie Bustamante Alex developed AFM in 2016. California suburban Sacramento, Mom realized that something was wrong when she asked a boy, then 5 why he did not eat his yogurt. Alex replied that his thumb was no longer working, and he could not keep a spoon.
This morning was the start of 17 months of in-patient care, surgery, therapy and the fight against doctors and insurers to find a way to restore their ability to breathe. It ended in the morning of last May, when Bustamante woke up, finding that Alex died.
Government officials must step up, said Bustamante.
"I want them to investigate and find the cause, and I want them. Finding a way to prevent this, "she said. "It's growing. This should not happen. "
More experts say that the main culprit is the enterovirus called EV-D68, based on how the AFM waves coincide with the spikes of respiratory diseases caused by EVD-68. Enterovirus is a large family of viruses, some of which, such as poliomyelitis, can damage the central nervous system, while many others cause mild symptoms or are absent altogether.
In the United States, doctors began reporting on respiratory diseases associated with EV-D68 in 1987, although usually not more than a dozen in any year.
Then, in that, perhaps, it was one of the first signs of AFM waves, a 5-year-old boy in New Hampshire died in 2008. After the development of neck and fever hurt, then the arms and legs were weakened. The boy had the EVD-68, and in a report published in an obscure medical journal, researchers spotted his death with the virus. California and Colorado.
What happened was a uniform, odd year: the cases fell to 22 in 2015, jumped to 149 in 2016 and again fell to 35 in 2017.
According to the cyclical picture, only four cases were confirmed this year.
CDC officials consider AFM illness to be based on scans and other evidence that shows some kind of spinal cord injury. Evidence of enterovirus infection is not required for the case to be calculated, mainly because such evidence is difficult to find. To date, CDC researchers have been able to find data on enteroviruses in the cerebrospinal fluid in only four out of 558 confirmed cases. firmly. This, in turn, can push a more focused work on treatment and, possibly, even a vaccine. research centers will work on the disease.
CDC also pays more attention. Parents accuse the agency of not doing more than they think, and complained that they encountered only automated phone trees and responses when they tried to contact the CDC. the scientific working group and the work on case monitoring more closely.
Fauchi suggested that it would be a mistake to assume that bursts will occur annually forever. The next "may be in 2019, according to all that we know"
Department of Public Health and Science The Associated Press receives support from the Department of Natural Education of the Medical Institute Howard Hughes. AP bears full responsibility for all content.