The Centers for Disease Control is investigating a mysterious polio-like disorder that is on the rise across the nation and mainly affecting children.
There have been three confirmed cases in North Texas at Cook Children's Medical Center, including 5-year-old Elizabeth Storrie. She became sick earlier this year and has made a full recovery.
There was an outbreak of the disease four years ago. The numbers leveled out, but there’s been an increasing number of cases this year in Minnesota and Colorado. Some are in North Texas.
Elizabeth had her fifth birthday in the hospital. She’s recovering from the polio-like illness known as acute flaccid myelitis.
“That’s the most terrifying moment for any parent,” said Heather Storrie, Elizabeth’s mom. “To suddenly hear your perfectly healthy girl was potentially never going to walk again and never breathe on her own again on her own again was devastating.”
Elizabeth’s parents brought her to Cook Children’s Pediatrics in Willow Park last June.
“Her neck pain. Couldn’t move her right arm very well, and couldn’t sit up,” said Carl Storrie, Elizabeth’s father.
One side of Elizabeth’s face was drooping.
“She’s seeing improvements,” said Cook Children’s Pediatrician Dr. Diane Arnaout. “She used to smile only with one side of her face. Now, she has a big full smile, which makes me smile.”
Elizabeth was transferred to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
Doctors say AFM is a rare disease although the CDC has confirmed 38 cases this year in 16 states. Cook Children’s Hospital says they’ve had three of those confirmed cases. Doctors say AFM is caused by a virus and it’s not contagious.
“It’s extremely unlikely your child is going to end up with this,” said Dr. Fernando Acosta, a Cook Children’s neurologist. “The warning signs: looking for a pattern of weakness that is more in one area of the body than other areas of the body.”
“As the days went on in the ICU, the doctors were stunned every day,” Heather said. “They would come in and see she was not on a ventilator. She was breathing on her own continued to give us hope that she was going to get better.”
Elizabeth continues to get better. Last weekend, she participated in a kid’s triathlon sponsored by Cook Children’s. Doctors see that as remarkable progress.
“Given what this disease can do, we’ll take what we can get,” Arnaout said.
Doctors say there is no cure and that Elizabeth is lucky since not all children have such a good recovery.