FORT WORTH, Texas — Treating a variety of diseases for children, Dr. Fernando Acosta Jr. has been a neurologist at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth for 12 years.
Over the last few years, he’s seen cases of a very rare condition called Acute Flaccid Myelitis.
It’s so rare that less than one in a million will get AFM, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Acosta said there's no cure or treatment at this time.
He said symptoms are just like the symptoms of Polio.
“They’re exactly alike," Acosta said. "It’s patchy, focal weakness, and it can occur anywhere in the body."
The good news is it’s not widespread like Polio was in the 1940s and 1950s. Cook Children’s Medical Center has diagnosed three patients with AFM in 2018. There is one more case that is being looked at by the CDC that could make a fourth.
“It’s a new presentation of an old disease,” Acosta said.
With research, doctors are trying to figure out if AFM is coming from the same enterovirus family, but not every child diagnosed with AFM has the virus. There are many unknown factors at this time.
Acosta said the only way to help the kids is to get them into rehabilitation. One in three patients at Cook Children’s has seen an improvement by doing physical therapy.
He is advising parents to take their children to the emergency room if they notice any focal weakness.
“If one arm isn’t working correctly, or one leg, or one side of the body, or if you notice an asymmetry in the face where one side looks very different than the other side, that child should be evaluated," he said.
According to Lara M. Anton, a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services, AFM cases are not required to be reported in the state. So cases recorded by Texas are done so based on those shared voluntarily.
Currently, there have been eight cases reported in 2018.
There has been one case reported in each of these counties: Collin, Dallas, Galveston, Harris, Parker and Travis. There have been two cases reported in Tarrant County.