Arkansas Department Of Health Confirms 3 Cases Of Polio-Like Illness

LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — The Arkansas Department of Health has confirmed three cases in the state of Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM, a polio-like illness that primarily affects children. Two of the confirmed cases are in northwest Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The ADH received an updated from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the weekend stating there were five suspected cases of the disease in Arkansas.

Since then, according to the ADH, three cases have been confirmed, and two were shown to be something else.

Two of the confirmed cases are from the northwest region of the state, and the third is from central Arkansas. All three patients are younger than 18.

AFM is a rare condition that affects children and doesn't have a known cause, the ADH said.

"We don't know exactly what's causing it," Arkansas Epidemiologist Dr. Dirk Haselow told 5NEWS. He says there's still a lot unknown about the illness.

9-year-old Austin Daniels from Moutainburg has been diagnosed with the rare virus. "He had paralysis from the neck down in 2016," Michelle Daniel, Austin's mother, said.

"He complained of a stiff neck. The next day he started shuffling his feet, couldn't lift his head, couldn't move his arm," says Michelle. "He's working through it. He's still outgoing and still friendly, makes lots of friends wherever he goes."

"The two enteroviruses that have been associated with this can be prevented by washing hands. So washing your hands before cooking food, before eating, and after using the restroom," Dr. Haselow told 5NEWS.

The symptoms include sudden arm and leg weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial droop or weakness, drooping eyelids and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

Anyone with these symptoms should seek medical attention right away.

Some of the AFM cases have happened after viral infections, so keeping the child healthy is the best way to help prevent infection. This includes keeping vaccines up to date, protecting against mosquito-borne viruses and washing hands often with soap and water.

More information can be found here.