East Bay Girl Contracts Polio-Like Illness

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An East Bay mom is warning parents about a rare disease that landed her daughter in a wheelchair.

Samantha Winters, 10, lost control of her arms and legs following a routine trip to the dentist.

She arrived at Benioff Children’s Hospital a week before Thanksgiving.

She couldn’t walk, and she couldn’t stretch out her fingers and though she is on the road to recovery, what got here there in the first place is frightening.

“She can’t spread her hands out, she doesn’t have any grip,” said her mother Latisha Winters.

Before a routine dentist appointment in mid-November, she was a normal 10-year-old.

“She walked in completely normal we came back out she said her hands felt funny,” said Latisha.

Samantha said she remembers her legs starting to go numb and she thought she was falling asleep.

She was rushed to the hospital and after a three-and-a-half-hour MRI, doctors diagnosed her with a rare disease known as acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM.

“It’s very difficult disease because it can attack the whole body and paralyze the whole body and that can be very dangerous,” said doctor Javier Esquivel.

A research team at UCSF found that AFM begins with cold-like symptoms and progresses to limb weakness and paralysis in a matter of days. Some researchers believe the virus found in the common cold can be contagious.

It was first documented in 2012 with more than 500 confirmed cases recorded so far in the U.S. There’s no cure and the recovery level vary between patients.

The only way to fight the disease is with intense therapy.

“What I went through I wouldn’t want any other kids to go through,” said Samantha.

She is expected to leave this hospital in four to six weeks.

She may have to leave in a wheelchair but it it’s up to her, she plans on walking out of those doors.

“She has a long road to go we are trusting in the Lord that she will have a full recovery,” said Latisha.

A GoFundMe page for Samantha has been set up.

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