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Canada on Alert for Polio-like Illness

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Canada on Alert for Polio-like Illness
Canadian health authorities are on alert on Friday after the appearance of a rare polio-like paralytic illness, also reported in recent weeks in 22 U.S. states.

Since September we have seen an increase in patients with muscle weakness who also had a previous viral disease, Dr Jeremy Friedman, a pediatrician at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, explained to Global News.

These symptoms are typical of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), and many other pediatric centers in North America have reported similar cases, he said.

‘We know from experience that the prognosis and long-term effects of AFP can vary, some patients recover completely and others experience a range of long-term effects and even permanent effects,’ he added.

Given the situation, the hospital emailed other medical facilities in the country last week to alert doctors about the problem.

For its part, the Canada Public Health Agency reported having counted at least 25 probable cases and five confirmed PFA cases this year.

Global News noted that at the Montreal Children’s Hospital one case was reported in summer and three more in October.

The damage can be serious, said Christos Karatzios, an infectious disease specialist at the center.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been at least 62 cases in the neighboring nation so far this year.

While several media outlets highlighted similarities with polio, the CDC ruled out either that virus or the West Nile one.

The disease, also known as acute flaccid myelitis, affects a part of the spinal cord called the anterior horn, which controls body movement.

Symptoms include paralysis of one or more limbs, flaccidity of face and eyelids, difficulties moving eyes and swallowing, and speech problems, medical sources told radio RCI.

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