Canadian doctors are now saying that Toronto can be added to the list of areas with confirmed cases of AFM (acute flaccid myelitis), the polio-like illness that sometimes results in paralysis. So far, 22 U.S. states have confirmed AFM cases in an ongoing battle with an illness that isn’t incredibly understood. One U.S. child has died.
“I can confirm that since September, we have certainly seen an increase of patients with muscle weakness who also had a preceding viral illness,” said Dr. Jeremy Friedman, associate pediatrician-in-chief at the Hospital for Sick Children, said via CBC. “These symptoms are typical of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and increases of similar cases have been reported by many other North American pediatric centres.”
Dr. Friedman would not give an exact figure on the number of new cases in Canada, but did say SickKids has seen “fewer than 20 probable cases of AFP.” That is news to Health Canada.
“Fewer than five cases have been reported from January to August 2018, which is the latest data we have available,” said Health Canada spokesperson Anna Maddison. “For 2018, the observed number of cases is within the normal range.”
Children are most at risk for contracting AFM. Doctors do not currently understand what causes it. What is known is that AFM tends to affect the spinal cord region called the anterior horn. Doctors believe that one cause could be rhinovirus, a common cold. Several years ago, the enterovirus called EV-D68 virus was tracked to AFM.
The details remain murky.