Rare, polio-like disease affecting children in United States, says CDC

Minnesota: Acute flaccid myelitis cases investigated across state

Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children

The Minnesota state health department said all six cases occurred after mid-September, and all six kids have been hospitalized. Per CNN, the condition is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and damages the body's nervous system. It is actively investigating AFM cases, and trying to unearth more information about the rare condition. "It's incredibly heartbreaking to see this". From the year 2014 to 2018, information regarding total number of 362 cases of AFM in the United States has been received by the U.S. diseases prevention and control center.

Colorado has had 14 AFM cases so far this year, according to Colorado state epidemioloogist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. An investigation is underway to determine what caused these specific cases of AFM. Other symptoms may include: neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech. "This condition is not new, but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new". As limbs become weak, a patient might lose the ability to use their arms or legs.

In a separate statement, the agency said that it was "aware of several patients in Minnesota who have clinical symptoms" consistent with AFM and that it was "working closely with the Minnesota State Health Department to investigate these cases".

Minnesota typically sees, at most, one case of acute flaccid myelitis a year, so it's concerning that such a large group has presented with the illness at the same time. They have been reported in 16 states.

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In 2014, doctors believed the cases might be linked to infection with enterovirus 68, a respiratory virus, according to a New York Times article.

If your child is experiencing any symptoms of AFM, you should contact your health care provider immediately.

AFM affects the spinal cord, impairing muscular function and reflexes, according to the CDC. Doctors stress that the early signs of AFM should be recognized and treatment should be started as soon as possible to prevent from severity of disease.

AFM can be developed from a viral infection, although its exact cause is unknown. Acute flaccid myelitis is tricky to diagnose and may require tests of spinal fluid, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There's no vaccine against EV-D68 or EV-A71, so the same precautions apply as for any other infectious disease: people should wash their hands frequently, stay home when they are sick, cover coughs and sneezes and stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing.

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