PORTLAND, Ore. — A 6-year-old Oregon boy is being treated for acute flaccid myelitis, a rare and mysterious illness that can lead to paralysis.
The disease, commonly known as AFM, affects the body’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not know the cause of AFM or how to prevent it. In addition, the CDC has seen a spike in cases this year, with 50 people in 24 states diagnosed with the disease from January to August.
Hudson Grey Zednik, from Baker City, is thought to be the first case in Oregon.
According to his father, Hudson initially started having cold-like symptoms, but his condition deteriorated. Hudson's mother took him to the emergency room because he was vomiting, had a high fever and complained of a sore neck and back pain.
On Oct. 3, the boy told his mother he felt like he was suffocating. She gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Hudson was airlifted to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, where he is being treated in the pediatric intensive care unit.
After a series of tests and examinations over the past two weeks, doctors believe he has AFM.
“It’s a medical mystery,” said Frank Zednik, the boy's father. “Because it is such a new thing, they don’t know what the prognosis is."
The little boy has regained some strength but still can’t move one arm or leg, lift his head or breathe on his own.
“We just have to focus on getting his spinal cord back to where it was, and that is through rehabilitation and working hard,” his father said. “It’s just a waiting game.”
Friends of the family set-up a GoFundMe page to help pay for travel expenses related to Zednik’s illness.
The boy is expected to be transferred to a Portland-area children’s hospital later this month.
The CDC is working to figure out the cause and risk factors of AFM. Anyone can get this rare illness, which presents itself with a sudden onset of symptoms, including limb weakness, facial drooping and difficulty swallowing and talking.