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County Health Department letter addresses AFM risk concerns

The Ferndale School District tonight published a letter received from Dr. Greg Stern of the Whatcom County Health Department.

The letter, in part, addressed concerns about being in contact with infected persons. These concerns were heightened recently due to the close proximity of two cases in Whatcom County, including one who recently died.

The Washington State Department of Health was made aware of the hospitalization of eight children in October 2016 for a variety of conditions that all involved severe weakness in one or more limbs.  They have consulted with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and have not yet determined whether any or all of the cases are Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), a condition with many possible infectious, autoimmune, or toxic causes.  Two of the children were from Whatcom County, three from King County, two from Franklin County, and one from Pierce County.  There is no evidence of any household or school contacts having similar conditions, and no known connection between any of the cases.

We are reassured by the rarity of AFM and the lack of evidence of transmission to close contacts.  We do not think that classmates of cases are at increased risk.

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We continue to work with clinicians and public health agencies to identify and investigate cases, to search for common causes, and hope to identify effective treatment and prevention measures.

All 8 Washington cases are children age 3 to 14-years-old and all have been hospitalized at Seattle Children’s Hospital. So far, 5 have been released.

According to Washington Department of Health Infectious Disease Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist,

At this point there isn’t evidence that would point to a single source of illness among these cases. However, this investigation is just getting underway and we’re looking at all possibilities as we try to understand what might have contributed to these illnesses.

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Additional resources for information include:

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