Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington report cases of polio-like illness called AFM

AFM impacts "the area of spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak", the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

Two-year-old Julia Payne is one of two children being treated for AFM in Chicago.

"We have 41 cases of children who have had some sort of illness of enterovirus A71, which is causing a wide spectrum of neurological illness", Herlihy said.

Earlier this month, six Minnesota children were diagnosed with the disease.

The disease, which attacks the nervous system, is not contagious from person to person but may be spread by a virus or the likes of mosquito bites .

Cases of a rare polio-like illness that are turning up across the country are also appearing here in North Texas.

"At this point there isn't evidence that would point to a single source of illness among these cases", Dr. Scott Lindquist, state infectious disease epidemiologist at the Department of Health, said.

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The children were hospitalized after experiencing "sudden onset of paralysis of one or more limbs". They may also experience drooping eyelids, facial droop and slurred speech, among other symptoms. "We're working closely with medical providers and public health agencies".

Between 2014 and 2018, the CDC received reports of more than 360 cases.

Because of AFM's possible roots in polio, doctors and medical health professionals are urging parents to stay up-to-date on their children's vaccinations. It is actively investigating AFM cases, and trying to unearth more information about the mysterious condition.

"What we don't know is why these common cold symptoms, why in some individuals does it turn into AFM that's where the mystery lies", said Dr. Sinner. Between January 1 to September 30, 2018, 38 people in 16 states have been confirmed to have AFM.

Since 2015, when IL began monitoring reports of AFM in the state, four confirmed cases have been identified.

"The increase in AFM cases in 2014 coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among people caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)", the CDC notes on its website. "Less than one in a million people in the United States get AFM each year", the CDC says.

In 2016, there were nine cases of AFM in Washington and three in 2017.

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