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CHEO confirms the third case of a rare polio-like illness.



The Pediatric Health and Research Center for Eastern Ontario confirmed that another child was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, a rare disease like polio that causes paralysis.

A CHEO representative in Ottawa said that the young boy arrived at the hospital in mid-December and was accepted. The baby had paralysis of one arm, but after a few days he was discharged.

Now this is the third case of the disease, diagnosed in the hospital since the summer, and is considered the least serious of the three.

Very little is known about acute sluggish myelitis, but doctors have determined that it is not polio, despite the similar symptoms.

We went through hell.Rachel Downton

These include paralysis of one or more limbs, omission of the face and eyelids, difficulty in eye movement and swallowing, and slurred speech.

Children may also have breathing problems, and in severe cases, a ventilator may be required due to muscle weakness.

Parents offer support

Parents of another child who has similar symptoms say they hope to offer support to other families affected by a mysterious illness.

“We went through hell,” said Rachel Daunton, whose 5-year-old son, Xavier, began to show flu symptoms that quickly worsened during Labor Day's long weekend.

The road to recovery was not easy for Xavier or his family. He spent weeks in the hospital, but gradually improved physical and occupational therapy and returned to school shortly before the Christmas holidays.

Xavier Daunton was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis after he was sent to CHEO for a weekend dedicated to Labor Day. (Judy Treen / CBC)

However, he does not have precise motor control in his right hand and can only walk with a walker or in water. Otherwise he is wheelchair bound.

Xavier is a perfectionist, said Downton. “He’s angry or he says no, I can’t do that,” unless he thinks he can [his exercises] properly."

She hopes that the parents of a newly diagnosed child do not lose hope.

“It really convinces me that they have to go through this. I don't even know them yet, ”she said through tears.

Rachel and Chris Downton say their son Xavier has improved in the past few months, but can only walk with the support of a walker or in the water. They are depicted with their other son, Caleb. (Judy Treen / CBC)

Mysterious Ailment

Doctors say parents should seek medical attention if their child experiences sudden weakness in any part of the body, an unexpected loss of bowel or bladder control, or neck pain.

Doctors do not know what causes the disease. They also do not know why this primarily affects children, or why so many new cases are being reported.

“Parents should remember that AFM is a very rare disease. They should not worry or change their attitude towards diseases with cold or flu-like symptoms, such as fever and muscle pain, as there is no way to predict AFM, ”the author writes. Dr. Asif Doge, head of neuroscience CHEO, in an email. "Parents will absolutely know when to go to the hospital, because the symptoms of this extremely rare disease are dramatic and cause concern."

According to the Ministry of Health of Canada, the number of cases of acute flaccid myelitis this year is now almost 70.

This is higher than the average of 27-51 cases per year.


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