Bellingham boy battling mysterious brain illness dies; another child hospitalized

SEATTLE -- Another child has been admitted to Seattle Children’s Hospital with a mystery illness similar to polio, according to the state health department. Nine children are now being investigated for possibly having acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

One of those children was 6-year-old Daniel Ramirez, who we first told you about last week. According to his family, Daniel was pronounced dead on Sunday.

When we first sat down with Marijo De Guzman and Jose Ramirez at Seattle Children’s Hospital, there was hope.

“I hope that someone watching this will help save my son,” De Guzman had said as Daniel fought for his life.

It was a hope they would find a diagnosis, who was battling a mystery virus attacking his brain, a hope that little Daniel would smile again. But Sunday, Daniel lost his battle.

“I miss him so much,” said Daniel’s father, Jose Ramirez.

The state health department says Daniel Ramirez is one of nine children being investigated for AFM. Five have now been released from the hospital and 3 remain. Only two of the nine have been positively diagnosed with AFM.

“It’s unreal, it’s a nightmare,” said De Guzman. “We don’t want any other kids to die from this, and we don’t want other parents to feel like this.”

At this point, doctors still can’t tell Daniel’s family whether he had AFM, but they say they won’t stop searching for answers. They’re hoping an autopsy will help them learn more about what killed their little boy. They hope their answers may save other kids.

“It’s not OK but if we can prevent that, our son’s legacy will live on, he will have died having a cause and a purpose,” said De Guzman.

Symptoms of AFM include:

-- sudden onset of limb weakness

-- sudden loss of muscle tone & reflexes

-- facial droop/weakness

-- difficulty moving the eyes

-- drooping eyelids

-- difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.

Daniel Ramirez had some of these symptoms, according to his parents, but the big question is how did he get it? Health officials say it can caused by a variety of germs, including several viruses.

There is no specific treatment but washing hands and being up to date on vaccinations are prevention recommendations.