The number of confirmed cases of a polio-like illness affecting mostly children continues to surpass record totals with 186 confirmed cases in 39 states.
The latest totals were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of December 28th. The totals mark an increase of 21 confirmed cases and three more states compared to the December 14th reporting period.
Among unconfirmed cases, there are now 341 under investigation. Tennessee, West Virginia, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. are the only states/districts which have not reported confirmed cases. Among all other states, Texas has the highest total of confirmed cases with 25.
Previously, the CDC stated they believe there are positive signs the outbreak has hit it's peak given in previous years the number of reports drop in December. Since reporting from states is delayed, this latest increase could be slightly dated.
Acute flaccid myelitis first starts as a fever and/or respiratory illness three to ten days before the patient's limbs get weak. Something in the body -which researchers are still trying to figure out- then triggers AFM to affect the nervous system, leading to weak limbs and possible paralysis.
Since 2014, over 90% of patients reported a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM. Over 90% of the cases have been children.
Researchers say the outbreak appears to be an every-other-year occurrence. Since 2014, even years have seen no less than 120 confirmed cases, with 2015 and 2017 seeing no more than 35 cases.