Minnesota Children Diagnosed With Rare 'Polio-Like' Illness

Six Minnesota children diagnosed with rare polio-like disease

Six kids in Minnesota have been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis

"He started just complaining of just really bad neck stiffness".

Sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes is common for people with AFM.

The condition is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. "Isolation protocols and infection control procedures are in place and we're working with the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department to further monitor and evaluate the patient conditions". There is no treatment but some symptoms can be managed. It seems to wax and wane from one year to the next, the CDC says. In Minnesota, three cases of the disease were reported in 2014, but since then the number had dropped until the latest outbreak.

The case of Orville Young, 4, was among the first in Minnesota to be reported.

The Minnesota Department of Health recently announced six AFM cases have been classified in its state and were reported in children under 10 years old, living in the Twin Cities, central Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota.

Experts aren't sure what is causing the increase, but they know the numbers started to go up about four years ago in 2014. While AFM doesn't have a cure, the symptoms can be treated and in most cases death can be avoided. These states include California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

Health officials say they do not yet know the long-term effects of AFM. CDC has been actively investigating these AFM cases, and we continue to receive information about suspected AFM cases. "Among the people confirmed with AFM, CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every patient".

Health officials are warning parents to be on the lookout for symptoms.

"You can protect yourself and your children from poliovirus by getting vaccinated", the CDC advises.

Causes of AFM include viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders. They can also cause neurologic illness, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and AFM, but these are rare.

Concern is growing over mysterious outbreaks of a rare polio-like condition in children. Fewer than 1 in 1 million people will contract AFM, even when these new numbers are taken into account.

The CDC says it's important to practice disease prevention steps: staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and preventing mosquito bites.

If your child has any symptoms of AFM (limb weakness, facial weakness/drooping, difficulty speaking or swallowing), seek medical attention right away.

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