Acute flaccid myelitis: Why is mysterious polio-like illness afflicting children so badly?


The mysterious polio-like disease that may be afflicting three children in Pittsburgh and others in Minnesota is raising a lot of concern.

>> Watch the news report here

Pittsburgh's WPXI sat down with Dr. Jennifer Preiss from the Allegheny Health Network to talk about acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM.

>> On WPXI.com: 3 children possibly suffering from polio-like disease being treated at Children's Hospital

“It’s bringing back a lot of hysteria, and if you knew anyone who lived during the polio time, there was a lot of hysteria about polio,” Preiss said. “Most of the time, everyone gets better and everyone is fine, but in these rare cases, there is some immune response that is attacking the muscles of these children.”

The Centers for Disease Control doesn’t know the exact cause of this virus that starts as a cold but then attacks the nervous system, causing different forms of paralysis.

Preiss says a lot is dependent on how a person’s immune system responds to this particular virus.

>> Read more trending news 

“Some of the time, when people get viruses – and I’m not even speaking about this particular virus – bad things happen because we have these hyper-immune systems, and some of these hyper-immune system responses are what causes the paralysis,” she said.

The CDC is now looking at the samples taken from the children at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

It will be several weeks before we know if the virus strain in Pittsburgh is the same as the virus in Minnesota that’s affected six kids and made national headlines.


Reader Comments


Next Up in Health

This everyday task can help you avoid high blood pressure, study says
This everyday task can help you avoid high blood pressure, study says

A healthy diet and consistent workout routine can help you avoid high blood pressure. But there’s a simple task that can also lower your risk, according to a new report.  Researchers from the University at Buffalo recently conducted a study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, to determine the link between dental...
'Baby, It's Cold Outside' writer's daughter says song isn't about date rape
'Baby, It's Cold Outside' writer's daughter says song isn't about date rape

The daughter of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" writer Frank Loesser is firing back against critics who are giving the holiday classic a frosty reception this year. Susan Loesser, 74, spoke to NBC News last week, defending the 1944 song against claims that it normalizes date rape. "Bill Cosby ruined it for everybody," she said...
More blood pressure medication recalled due to possible cancer risk
More blood pressure medication recalled due to possible cancer risk

Yet another blood pressure medication has been added to the list of recalled hypertension drugs.  Mylan Pharmaceuticals has voluntarily expanded its recall for its valsartan-containing products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced. The affected pills include valsartan, amlodipine/valsartan and valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide...
6 things you may not know about Christmas 
6 things you may not know about Christmas 

Christmas has many traditions that are so entrenched you probably don't give them much thought. But when you consider why things are done the way they are, you'll find that just about every element of Christmas has an interesting, evolving story behind it. Here are six things you may not know about Christmas: Dec. 25 probably wasn't the day when Jesus...
Tracking Santa: Where's Santa now and when will he be at your home?
Tracking Santa: Where's Santa now and when will he be at your home?

It's the question at the top of every child's mind on Christmas eve: where is Santa now and when will he get to my house? Fortunately, there are several ways to track St. Nick so you can see when he's scheduled to arrive in various parts of the world. Whether you prefer a website, an app, social media or even an old-school phone call, it's easy to...
More Stories