Florida girl treated for rare polio-like virus AFM

- It was two years ago when Sophia Gary, a then healthy two-and-a-half-year-old girl, woke up with a simple cold.  Her mother never imagined what would happen next.

"The whole family had the cold -- she's had a cold before -- but this particular cold, she woke up one day and she said, 'Mommy I can't walk.'  ...  we really didn't know what that meant, so we kind of picked her up and tried to get her to stand up and she would collapse," said Amanda Gary, Sophia’s mother.

After nine days in the hospital and a misdiagnosis, she starting doing research on acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.  It's a rare disease often compared to polio. 

"It sounded exactly like what happened to her, so I found a doctor in Dallas that was seeing a lot of these kids that were diagnosed with AFM.  We went and saw him, and he took a look at her records and said this is a text book case of AFM."

AFM has been on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's radar lately, after six children in Minnesota were diagnosed with the disease -- all under 10 years of age.  In Colorado they have seen 14 cases, but this DeBary, Florida mother wants people to know it's effecting families every where.

"It is definitely happening in a lot more places then the news is currently reporting, and so I think we are all trying to get the word out there that it's happening."

Unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM, and doctors admit they are in the dark about what causes the disease.

Sophia, now four years old, needs a brace on her right leg in order to walk. A nerve transfer has helped, but it's something that would have never happened, if they hadn't done their own research. 

"My goal is to prevent any other family from going through this, and hopefully, they can come up with a vaccine that can prevent this from happening to anybody else."

Read more about AFM at CDC.gov.

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