Rare Paralysis Cases in Children Are Investigated in Minnesota

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Between August 2014 and August 2018, the CDC received information on a total of 362 confirmed cases of AFM nationwide.

Even with an increase in cases since 2014, AFM remains a very rare condition.

"In recent weeks seven children have been diagnosed with AFM in Minnesota and Iowa, including two children who required treatment in the intensive care unit for respiratory support", the senators write.

"It's always important to practice disease prevention steps, such as staying up-to-date on vaccines, washing your hands, and protecting yourself from mosquito bites", the CDC said on a page devoted to AFM.

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Cases of the "polio-like" illness acute flaccid myelitis are surfacing among more children across the US, with reports of the condition that can lead to paralysis and death coming in from several states over the last few days.

What is acute flaccid myelitis?

The disease is known to hit the nervous system by traveling through the spinal cord. Possible causes may include viruses, such as the poliovirus, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses, as well as environmental toxins or genetic factors. Symptoms can include limb weakness, facial drooping, and trouble swallowing or speaking.

"We think that in some cases, there might be a virus or some pathogen that you are initially infected with", Kenyon said. Health officials are collecting information about the cases from health providers and are in contact with the CDC, the MDH said.

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In Washington, all of the patients suspected of having AFM are under age 6 and all had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week before developing symptoms of AFM, the Department of Health reported on Wednesday.

Health officials said that a single cause of AFM has not been found and often no cause is found.

In very rare cases, AFM can trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death. To date, no pathogen (germ) has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid; a pathogen detected in the spinal fluid would be good evidence to indicate the cause of AFM since this condition affects the spinal cord. Among the people confirmed with AFM, CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every patient.

Kris Ehresmann with the state Health Department advises parents, "Any kind of acute muscle weakness in their kids, in arms and legs, that obviously doesn't have anything to do with spraining your ankle at soccer, that definitely they should seek medical attention". During 2016, CDC was informed of a few localized clusters in the United States.

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