MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — United States Senator Amy Klobuchar has petitioned the Centers for Disease Control to speak out on its efforts to combat a polio-like illness called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.
Seven children have been diagnosed with AFM in Minnesota this year.
“It was difficult as parents to watch out daughter go through so much pain and not be able to do anything about it,” said Mehdi Ayouche.
Five-year-old Sophia was released from the hospital Wednesday, but has lots of rehab in her future. Her family says what started out as a persistent cold regressed rapidly.
“After several visits to the urgent care she was diagnosed initially with strep and bronchitis,” Ayouche said. “She was given antibiotics, but then the following morning that’s when she started noticing that she couldn’t lift her arm and started having tremors.”
Sophia is one of seven children in Minnesota diagnosed with AFM. The five year old regained the ability to swallow and balance, but is still working on movement in her arm and shoulders.
Sophia’s parents joined others at a roundtable discussion about the illness, meeting with Sen. Klobuchar and infectious disease experts. The CDC admits is does not know the cause of AFM.
Seasonal clusters of the illness have been reported every two years since 2014, but 2018 has seen the most cases — with 62 reports in 22 states.
“I feel like the CDC and our departments of health need to go back and look at these past cases,” said Elaine Elizabeth Young, mother of an AFM survivor.
Some believe AFM is underreported and want health departments to look closer at past cases to get accurate numbers.
“I mean the symptoms are very dramatic,” Victoria Ayouche said. “The kid had a little cold and then they couldn’t lift one of their limbs.”
The CDC is investigating multiple possible causes, including viruses, environmental toxins, genetic disorders and immune conditions.
It is working with health departments to bring about awareness of the illness.