Health Alert: Doctors suspect one case of polio-like disease at Upstate University Hospital


SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) – Doctors at Upstate University Hospital and Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital believe one child treated in the past two months had Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), the polio-like disease spreading across the United States.

That child is one of two at the Central New York hospital in the past two months suffering from confirmed cases of Enterovirus 68, the virus mysteriously linked to AFM.

Due to privacy restrictions, the hospital could not release the condition of the patient, when he or she was admitted or discharged or where the child lives.

The child may not even be from Central New York. Upstate University Hospital treats patients in 17 counties in New York State and parts of Pennsylvania and Vermont.

While local doctors believe the child’s symptoms are consistent with the AFM syndrome, paired with the confirmed virus, they are still waiting on the New York State Department of Health to confirm lab results.

Thursday, the Department of Health would only say it has four suspected cases state-wide, none of which have been confirmed. That means Upstate’s suspected case will not show up in CDC or state statistics yet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 62 cases have been confirmed as AFM in 22 states.

AFM is not polio, but is similar in that it paralyses the nervous system of the young patient.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, AFM is rare but serious. 

Tuesday, CDC Dr. Nancy Messonnier, said, “It specifically affects the area of spinal cord called gray matter and causes muscles and reflexes to become weak.” 

The CDC first started noticing cases in 2014, and has seen a similar outbreak around the same time of 2016 and now 2018.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier said, “We know this can be frightening for parents. I know many parents want to know what the signs and symptoms are that they should be looking for in their child. I encourage parents to seek medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs.”

According to the CDC, of the confirmed cases, the average age is about 4 years old. More than 90 percent of the cases are in children age 18 and younger.

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