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2 suspected cases of polio-like illness emerge in Gallatin County

Posted at 4:12 PM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 13:03:18-04

BILLINGS – The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said Tuesday there are two suspected cases of what experts are calling a polio-like illness in Montana.

The spokesman for DPPHS Jon Ebelt said the suspected cases involve two adults and both originated in Gallatin County.

Ebelt couldn’t say the age or sex of the adults but did say in each case further testing was warranted after a doctor visit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 62 cases of the rare polio-like neurological condition acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM, so far this year in the U.S.

More than 90 percent of the cases involved children 18 or younger, with an average age of just 4 years old.

Cases have been confirmed in 22 states.

Montana is one state the CDC has identified as having confirmed cases or suspected cases.

Officials said they are looking at an additional 65 possible cases of AFM.

Ebelt said the reason the cases are suspected and not confirmed cases is that further testing has to be done.

He said the last time Montana had a case of AFM was back in 2015, Ebelt couldn’t specify where in Montana that case was at the time.

Ebelt said that health officials with the CDC are updating the number of cases.

The symptoms usually leave patients feeling weakened or even in some cases paralyzed in the rare illness. According to health officials, muscles and reflexes are weakened. AFM also affects the nervous system, specifically part of the spine.

In all the Centers for Disease Control reports they are investigating 127 possible cases nationwide.

Still, the suspected cases in Montana need further review until officials call them actual cases.

Ebelt said it’s something that needs further testing.

-Andrea Lutz reporting for MTN News