2nd case of rare paralyzing illness confirmed in Douglas County, the 5th for Nebraska

A second case of a rare paralyzing illness this season has been confirmed in a Douglas County resident, health officials said Friday.

The child confirmed with acute flaccid myelitis has been released from the hospital. The case is the fifth in the state this season.

The latest case is the final one from Nebraska that had been under review by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Adi Pour, the Douglas County Health Department’s director.

A previous Douglas County case was confirmed by federal investigators in December. Two cases were confirmed late last year in the Sarpy/Cass Health Department’s jurisdiction and one was corroborated in northeast Nebraska late last month.

“It is important to remember AFM remains extremely rare,” Pour said.

The condition affects mostly children and as of yet has no clear cause.

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.

It’s not believed to be transmitted from person to person. The condition has occurred at a rate of one to two children per million, according to CDC, and fewer than 500 cases have been confirmed in the five years that it has been tracked.

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

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.

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