Washington

9th Washington child may have rare neurological disease

Daniel Ramirez, 6, of Bellingham, died Sunday afternoon in Seattle Children’s Hospital. He is one of nine children, including two in Frankin County, who may have the rare neurological disease acute flaccid myelitis.
Daniel Ramirez, 6, of Bellingham, died Sunday afternoon in Seattle Children’s Hospital. He is one of nine children, including two in Frankin County, who may have the rare neurological disease acute flaccid myelitis. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Another child has been admitted to Seattle Children’s Hospital with a possible case of a rare neurological disease, making the ninth possible case of acute flaccid myelitis in the state since mid-September.

Two Franklin County children are among those who have been hospitalized, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

A 6-year-old Bellingham boy who may have had the disease, commonly called AFM, has died.

The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed that two of the nine cases in the cluster are AFM and continues to evaluate the seven other cases, including the illness of Daniel Ramirez of Bellingham.

Daniel was rushed to Seattle Children’s on Oct. 15 for symptoms that included drooling, slurred speech, pain in his leg and incontinence, according to a Q13 news report. He died Sunday.

His family wrote on the “Praying for Daniel Ramirez” Facebook page that their child had suffered two strokes between Oct. 21 and 27.

The Department of Health is not saying whether the two Franklin County children are among the three children who were in the hospital on Tuesday or whether they were among the two confirmed cases of AFM. Limited information is being released to protect patient privacy.

The ninth child hospitalized is from Snohomish County. Others are from King, Pierce and Whatcom counties, in addition to Franklin County.

Because AFM can be caused by a virus, preventive measures include hand washing and avoiding close contact with sick people.

Typical symptoms of AFM include sudden weakness in at least one arm or leg, loss of muscle tone and reflexes that are weak or absent. A small number of patients have complete recovery of use of their arms or legs after four months, but some patients see no improvement, according to a CDC survey of cases in 2014.

State health officials, working with the Seattle hospital and the CDC, have not found evidence to point to a single source of illness among the nine cases, but an investigation is continuing.

The exact cause of the illness, which involves the spinal cord, is not known.

Many germs and viruses have been linked to the illness, including common germs that can cause colds and respiratory infections. The illness also can be caused by viruses spread by mosquitoes or a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys tissue.

“It is a very rare response of certain children’s bodies to common infections,” said Dr. Jim Owens, a Children’s hospital neurologist, at a news conference Friday.

The cluster under investigation includes children ages 3 to 14, but this spring an adult was diagnosed with AFM in Washington state.

The Bellingham Herald contributed to this report.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533, @HanfordNews

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