Jacksonville toddler fighting polio-like disease in ICU, mom says

Local toddler battling rare polio-like disease

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A 3-year-old Jacksonville girl is being treated at Wolfson Children's Hospital for a polio-like virus that's been spreading in states across the country.

STORY: CDC detects seasonal pattern to polio-like illness, local experts urge parents not to panic

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Since Sunday, little Aamira has been in the Intensive Care Unit.

“It’s nerve wracking. It’s stressful. She can’t understand. She can’t get out of bed and do things for herself,” her mother, Reba Faircloth, said.

Faircloth said doctors believe her daughter has acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

It’s a rare paralyzing illness that health officials are investigating following a spike in cases mainly affecting children.

Doctors said the illness comes in clusters and more cases are expected in our area.“They told me it’s a polio-like strand, but it’s not per polio. It hit me hard,” Faircloth said.

Faircloth said her daughter started showing signs of some sort of illness on Thursday and it only progressed.

By Sunday, Faircloth said, her once-energetic toddler couldn’t walk.

“It was just like how a baby learns to walk and she collapsed and fell to the ground,” Faircloth said.

And she said doctors have been running tests on her since then.

“They told me they have no per se cure or how to get rid of it, they are just going by books and she had to get plasma infusions,” Faircloth said.

A doctor at the hospital said the illness affects the nervous system and can leave patients paralyzed.

“Some of the symptoms may slowly decrease, but often they are permanent or there is residual permanent damage,” said Dr. Jose Irazuzta of Wolfson Children’s Hospital, and a professor of pediatrics with the University of Florida.

Faircloth now has a message for other parents: “If you start to see weakness and everything, go to the hospital,” she said.

Faircloth said her daughter could be in the hospital for up to three weeks.

Doctors said this disease usually affects young children and they are working with researchers to learn more about AFM to find a cure.