4th case of paralyzing illness confirmed in northeast Nebraska child

Nebraska’s fourth case of a paralyzing illness this season has been confirmed in a child from northeast Nebraska.

The child confirmed with acute flaccid myelitis currently is hospitalized, state health officials said Wednesday. An additional suspected case is under further testing and expert review by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two cases were confirmed late last year in the Sarpy/Cass Health Department’s jurisdiction and one was corroborated in Douglas County.

The condition  which is rare  affects mostly children and as of yet has no clear cause. It’s not believed to be transmitted from person to person. The northeast Nebraska case initially was reported in mid-December as a suspected case in the Dakota County Health Department’s jurisdiction.

Symptoms tend to occur about a week after a child has had a fever and respiratory illness. They include sudden muscle weakness, including in the face, neck, back or limbs. CDC officials say at least half the patients do not recover from the paralysis and some have serious complications.

A total of 201 cases of the condition were confirmed in 40 states during 2018. The CDC last fall established a task force focused on better understanding the condition and studying how to prevent and treat it.

Federal officials said in December that the number of cases appeared to have peaked for the year and were expected to decline for the rest of 2018. Most of the cases confirmed at that time had occurred in September and October.

Each year that cases have run higher — 2014 and 2016 — the illnesses have spiked in September and tailed off significantly by November.

A total of 484 cases were confirmed in the United States from August 2014 to October 2018.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services began surveillance for the condition in 2014 after cases appeared in Colorado. Nebraska health care providers were required to begin reporting it to the state in 2016.

Some tips:

» If parents see potential symptoms in their child, they should contact their health care provider promptly.

» While there is no treatment for the condition or proven prevention strategy, washing hands, covering coughs and staying home when sick can help avoid illness.

» People seeking information about the illness can find out more at cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis.