Amarillo man tells story of diagnosis and recovery from polio-like illness

Amarillo man tells story of diagnosis and recovery from polio-like illness
LIVE: Medical staff give update on polio-like illness at Childrens Hospital
Acute flaccid myelitis is a rare condition thats become many American parents worst nightmare this year. One boy is being treated for an unconfirmed case right here at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital, so we talked to his mother and doctors to learn more about the headline-grabbing ailment.

"I never understood lethargia till I saw it in my son," Elijah's mom, Alex Voland, said. "We went to stand him up, and he collapsed."

Doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center said Elijah's symptoms match acute flaccid myelitis, though his case has not been confirmed as that condition. 

According to the CDC, acute flaccid myelitis is "a rare but serious condition" that affects spinal cord gray matter and causes muscles and reflexes to weaken. 

CDC officials said they started seeing an increase in cases in 2014. There have been 219 reports and 80 confirmed cases of the condition in the U.S. this year, as of Nov. 2. Those cases are spread across 25 states. 

In Ohio, there have been five confirmed cases this year, compared to just two in 2017 and two in 2016. The 2017 cases were confirmed in Butler and Hamilton counties, and one of the 2016 confirmed cases was in Adams County.

Symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis include facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving eyes, drooping eyelids and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech, according to the CDC. 

Doctors don't believe acute flaccid myelitis is contagious, according to Children's Hospital officials. However, the exact cause of the disease — likely a virus — has not been determined. 

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) – A case of the polio-like disease acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is being treated at Cincinnati Childrens.

Hes doing really well and responding well to the physical therapies, Alex Voalnd, Elijahs mother said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 155 suspected cases, with 62 confirmed cases of AFM in 22 states.

You may see symptoms of a cold, said Dr. Joshua Schaffzin, director of Infection Prevention and Control at Cincinnati Childrens. You may see symptoms of a viral gastric intestinal stomach issue. Then afterward the child will develop weakness in their legs and in their arms.

He was laying on the couch. He would have us carry him to the restroom. He wasnt eating a lot and then we noticed we went to stand him up and he took two steps collapsed,” she said.

In Elijahs case, hes doing intensive rehab therapy every day. Doctors said Elijah had paralysis in both his legs.

The left leg as of two weeks ago we started to see movement in it. He can move his ankle now up and down. He is moving his left hip a little bit. He is able to take some steps forward with therapy with a lot of support. The right leg he is still working hard at,” Neurologist Marissa Vawter said.

Really what it comes down to is parents know their children well. They should trust their gut. If your child is not getting better the way you might expect after a typical cold, pick up the phone and call your physician. Thats why we are here. Thats what we do. Schaffzin said.

Hes going to be OK regardless because I am his mom, so what ever our new normal is we are going to keep on going,” she said.

Posted in Amarillo