Lydia Pilarowski, who is 9 years old now, came down with a polio-like illness in 2014 -- one of many kids to contract what the news media called a mystery illness, with an epicenter in Colorado. For this little girl, symptoms started with a fever, then a cough, followed by a weakness in her arms. She and her mother, Sarah Pilarowski, who’s also a pediatrician, tell Colorado Matters about experiencing the illness.
Now, University of Colorado researchers along with colleagues around the world, say they've identified the likely cause. Acute Flaccid Myelitis is a neurological illness that can cause paralysis, facial drooping and muscle weakness. In 2014 there were more than 100 cases in 34 states, including 12 cases treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Now it appears to be surging again. The CDC announced this year it’s seen 50 cases in 24 states.
Dr. Kevin Messacar with Children’s Hospital tells Colorado Matters only a few cases have shown up in Colorado so far this time. All of the Colorado children with the disease eventually got better, but most still have some residual weakness in their arms and legs. “As a scientific community we need to take it seriously because of the long-term consequences and potentially disabling consequences of it,” he said.