YORK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There's a post-viral syndrome that's popping up throughout the country that leads to a paralysis in children.
It's incredibly rare and so new in children that doctors are still struggling to figure out where it comes from.
As of August, 50 cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis had been confirmed in America in 2016.
"Both ATM and AFM you have inflammation of the spinal cord, the lining, and with ATM it's usually a very specific area of the spinal cord that's affected. With AFM it's the entire spinal cord that's affected," said Dr. Dora Mills, formerly heading up the Maine CDC.
6-year-old Mason Johnson may be the first case of ATM in Maine this year.
Mason had complained of a headache; within 24 hours, his mother Jessica says he had lost movement in his left arm.
An MRI showed swelling in the left side of his spinal cord, but only near the neck. She considers him lucky to have only lost movement in his arm. Other children have lost movement from the nose down, ending up on ventilators to breathe.
"I asked if there was anything else I could have done. Friday when he came home if I had brought him in earlier when he had movement if that would have helped. And they said he got it and we don’t know when he actually got the virus, there was no stopping it," said Johnson.
Mason is in occupational therapy to try to maintain muscle mass. Meanwhile, his family is planning a trip to Maryland for treatment at John Hopkins.
"They do an intensive 3-4 week patient therapy. In some cases It helps, for some kids it takes a year to several years to get a difference. But they won’t know until they can see him."
Dr. Mills says most of the time, the movement comes back through therapy. Sometimes, though, it is permanent.
Jessica Johnson hopes in Mason's case, the paralysis is only temporary.
The Johnsons have set up a gofundme page to help pay for that treatment. They're also holding a fundraiser at Iron Trail Saloon in Acton on October 22, from 12-4 PM. Lobster and Clams will be served, along with burgers and hotdogs. For tickets or to make a donation, contact Roxanne at 207-205-0476, Hank at 207-205-0475, or Jeff at 207-467-1327.
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