One dead, 9 hospitalized with rare polio-like illness at Seattle Children's

A child from Snohomish County, Washington was recently admitted to Seattle Children's Hospital with an acute neurological illness characterized by polio-like symptoms, representing the ninth case of the condition seen at the hospital since mid-September.

The newest case was admitted on Sunday and reported to health officials on Monday, according to The Seattle Times. The suspected illness responsible for this cluster of hospitalizations is acute flaccid myelitis, a spinal cord condition that induces paralysis, facial droop, difficulty moving the eyes and slurred speech. Two of the children were diagnosed with AFM, five were released from the hospital and one died on Monday. The cases all occurred in children ages 3 to 14 across five Washington counties.

Many pathogens are linked to AFM, including common viruses that cause colds, sore throats and respiratory infections. The condition can also be caused by poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses and mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile and Zika. None of the Seattle Children's cases share a common infection.

"There's nothing that points to an individual cause for any of the cases or a link between the cases," said Julie Graham, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Health, according to The Seattle Times.

This year, the CDC has reported an uptick in AFM with 89 cases thus far across 33 states. In 2015, there were a total of 21 confirmed cases of the rare condition.

"This year, when we started to see the cases rise, we wanted to strongly let our providers know," Manisha Patel, MD a medical officer with the CDC, told the Seattle Times. "The key thing is we want to get as many cases reported to us as possible so that we can better understand this condition and what may be causing it."

The CDC, state and county health officials and Seattle Children's Hospital are currently investigating the cases.

"What we don't know is what is the specific trigger," said Dr. Patel. "We're not ruling anything out."

More articles on infection control: 
Oklahoma mumps outbreak now up to 130 
Study links antibiotic resistance with chlorhexidine exposure 
10 most-read infection control stories in October

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