Polio-like mystery

A scary polio-like disease, which peaked every other year since 2014 and has stumped health officials all over the United States, is causing widespread concerns, especially among parents, in this country.


          Here’s a report from the CDC: “U.S. health officials are investigating an outbreak of a mysterious, polio-like disease that causes weakness in one or more limbs. The rare disease — acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM — has sickened 62 people, mostly children, in 22 states so far this year and is suspected in 65 more cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced October 16, 2018.”

“Starting with an outbreak of 120 cases that brought the disease to national attention in 2014, close to 400 cases have been confirmed in the United States. So far, the CDC has been unable to figure out what’s causing the outbreaks. “This is a mystery,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in Atlanta, said during a news briefing. ‘We haven’t solved it yet’. Although the disease is frightening, fewer than one in a million people in the United States get AFM every year, based on CDC data collected since 2014.”

What is AFM?

Acute flaccid myelitis is a disease that afflicts the spinal cord, causing weakness of the arm or leg and loss of muscle tone. There could also be headache, neck pain, difficulty speaking, swallowing or breathing. Respiratory failure is also part of the symptom complex in some cases. Affected children  often start having a fever and respiratory problem and suddenly have weakness or paralysis of their limbs. Ninety percent of the cases this year were 18 and younger. This can worsen so fast that it is prudent to seek medical care immediately.

What is the cause AFM?


The US CDC presently has no answer as to what is causing this rare mysterious polio-like entity. Between 2014 and 2016, the study on the 149 confirmed cases did not yield any causal agent. “Infections with viruses such as West Nile Virus, adenovirus, poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses have led to symptoms that match those of AFM. However, testing has shown that the U.S. cases since 2014 have not been caused by poliovirus,” reported the CDC.

How was poliomyelitis eradicated?

The first clinical description of Polio was made by British physician Michael underwood in 1789. In 1840, Jacob Heine reported his studies that showed the involvement of the spinal cord. The first outbreak of polio in the United States was in Vermont, in 1894, with 132 cases. On March 26, 1953, Jonas Salk, an American researcher, announced his discovery of a vaccine against the crippling disease polio. The Salk vaccine was first used in 1955. Then came the oral polio vaccine developed by Albert Sabin in 1961. By 1979, thanks to the vaccines, poliomyelitis has been completely eliminated in the United States. Polio is also on the verge of being eradicated worldwide, except in Northern Nigeria and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What is the treatment for AFM?

Since the etiology (cause) has not yet been determined, there is no cure for AFM at this time. Management basically consists of treating the symptoms and physical or occupational therapy for limb weakness. A few patients who had AFM recovered for no clear reason, but most did not. This illness, believed to be viral in nature, commonly occurs in the late summer and autumn. Investigations are ongoing to discover the cause of this dreaded illness, reminiscent of the polio epidemic of 1916, when it occurred each summer in various cities of the USA. The worst was in 1949, where 2,720 died, and 42,173 cases were also noted in UK and Canada. US-CDC recommends seeking medical consultation at the very first suspicious symptom/sign of AFM.

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Anti-Cancer: Exercise and Veggies

Women who don’t smoke, and who eat vegetable-rich diet and exercise daily cut their cancer risk by 30%, reported the World Cancer research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research. The studies also recommend the following habits to prevent chronic diseases: abstinence from tobacco; moderation in alcohol intake, better yet abstinence; limiting red meat, fat and salt; not gaining more than 11 pounds after age 18; exercising daily; eating omega-3 rich fishes 3 times a week, and five or more portions of vegetables, nuts, and fruits daily. Eating salads loaded with meat or eggs or dressings with a lot of fats defeats the purpose. Salad with olive oil and vinegar is preferred.

Veggies combined

And talking about vegetables, a combination of broccoli and mushrooms have been found to have a more powerful cancer-fighting properties than when eaten alone. Studies suggest that certain nutrients, when combined, become more effective anti-cancer agents. Selenium (found in mushrooms, nuts, sunflower seeds) and Sulforaphane (broccoli, watercress and cabbage) are two such nutrients. Ginger has two anti-cancer compounds in it: 6-gingerol and 6-paradol. These substances help inhibit cell transformations that could lead to the formation of cancer. The higher concentration of these ingredients are found in fresh ginger. The fresher, the better.

Fasting is out, #NoRice is in

Fasting is the wrong way to start, or even “punctuate,” your dieting schedule.  Fasting has no place at all in controlling weight or quality of nutrition for our body. The temporary weight loss resulting from fasting is thru water loss (dehydration). The best way to maintain your weight is to burn the calories your take in daily (example: if you take in 2000 calories, you should exercise off 2000 calories that day). It is a matter of intake and output, an obvious common sense approach. If one is overweight and wants to lose weight, then the calories burned should be higher than the calories ingested, until the goal is reached…and at that point, the maintenance intake and output formula should prevail. Those who want to gain weight to reach the ideal weight, obviously, should have more intake than output of calories.

Minimizing rice, white or brown, or better yet eliminating rice from our diet, greatly helps, not only in weight control and reducing or preventing belly bulge, but in our general health, metabolic and cardiovascular. Today, #NoRice is in.

Helping, religion, improve longevity

A  recent report of a 5-year study among older people revealed that those in the habit of praying and helping others, providing support, love and care to friends or family were 60% less likely to die, compared to “unhelpful” people. This includes running errands, assisting in house chores, childcare, etc. It suggests that having a purpose in life, having religion, and serving our fellowmen are healthy for the body, not only for the soul. This, of course, is not limited to the older people only.

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