A 3-year-old in Jacksonville has been battling polio-like virus symptoms.
Photo: Valery Sharifulin/Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Photo: Valery Sharifulin/Valery Sharifulin/TASS

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

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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,” said her mother, Reba Faircloth.

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 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.

She said doctors have been running tests on the girl 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 Jose Irazuzta, of Wolfson Children’s Hospital, who is also a professor of pediatrics at 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. 

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