CDC: Rare polio-like disease is spreading

Mysterious 'polio-like' illness AFM is likely more widespread than reported experts say

Acute Flaccid Myelitis, Which Causes Paralysis In Kids, Reported In Canada

All 10 suspected cases are among children in northern IL. The cause of the illness is not known; it causes sudden onset of muscle weakness and even paralysis.

"We have [had] two patients we have treated in CHEO for [acute flaccid paralysis] since the summer", said Dr. Sunita Venkateswaran, a pediatric neurogologist with the children's hospital. The most severe symptom is respiratory failure.

State health officials who are investigating the cases have not revealed details regarding the locations, ages, gender or any other identifying details about those affected.

Cases of a rare polio-like condition have begun turning up in some Canadian children, following reports of dozens of cases in the recent weeks.

Friedman said they've seen "fewer than 20" probable cases of AFP at Sick Kids.

During an information briefing, the Director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier said, despite extensive laboratory testing, they don't know what causes the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients.

If a child "develops weakness of a limb, especially in the context of cold-like symptoms or other viral symptoms, they should see their health-care provider immediately", Toronto's Friedman told CBC.

The CDC is open to the possibility that it's not a virus that is causing the condition, but can not find any other plausible cause, either.

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The disease affects a part of the spinal cord called the anterior horn, which helps control movement.

AFM cases on the rise in the U.S. Story continues below video.

Health officials say there are several potential causes of the condition, including certain viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.

Messonnier said other viruses besides EV-D68 have been found in patients with AFM.

While a lot is still unknown about the condition, CDC experts are looking to past outbreak patterns to try and predict when this one will hit its peak.

The CDC says the number of patients under investigation is up from 127 patients a week ago. "That's something that we're still really learning about", Jones said.

The CDC reports the odds of contracting AFM are less than one in a million.

This is why the CDC's advice for preventing an infection that might lead to AFM is so general: wash your hands, and cover up and use repellent to prevent insect and tick bites. When it infects pregnant women, the Zika virus can go into the brains of the developing fetuses and cause permanent damage.

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