Polio-Like AFM in More Children Surfacing Across US

Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children

- A mysterious neurological condition called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) has made headlines in recent weeks, with officials looking into several suspected cases in Minnesota, Colorado and here in Chicago.

Little is known about Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare disease that affects the nervous system. This year along, there were 38 people diagnosed with AFM across 16 states. Doctors found a clue to what was wrong from an MRI scan. His parents, Elaine and Michael Young, said that he developed a fever in July and afterwards started to lose mobility in his right arm. In severe cases, children might have trouble breathing and need a ventilator because of muscle weakness.

Investigators are still collecting data on the two unconfirmed cases in Minnesota, which involved children under the age of 10 who displayed symptoms in the summer, Griffith said.

AFM has been around for a while, but the CDC notes that there have been increases in the number of cases reported starting in 2014.

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Even with extensive lab testing, AFM is hard to diagnose, because it so similar to other conditions, including poliovirus, West Nile virus and adenoviruses, the CDC reports. "Because the causes of AFM are unknown, we urge the CDC to provide more information immediately about preventive measures and treatments".

The condition is still very rare, occurring in fewer than one in a million people in the USA each year, the CDC says.

"There were not necessarily a lot of cases that had been noticed before" 2014, said Jayne Griffith, the Minnesota Department of Health's senior epidemiologist.

Orville was diagnosed with AFM and spent six days in the hospital.

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AFM is believed to be caused by viruses, notably the enterovirus D68. Symptoms include sudden arm and leg weakness, drooping eyelids, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing.

AFM is not known to be contagious, she said.

"In very rare cases, it is possible that the process in the body that triggers AFM may also trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death", according to the CDC. "She went in for an X-ray and she couldn't hold her head up by herself anymore, which was very odd". Your doctor may collect information about your symptoms and send this information to their health departments. This does not include all of the 14 cases announced by Colorado, as some of those cases were confirmed after September 30. And there are other diseases that mimic the symptoms, such as West Nile virus and Guillain Barre syndrome. "We're doing everything we can to keep the muscles healthy".

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