CDC Warns of Polio-Like Virus Striking More US Kids

Cases of Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Reported in 22 states

The cases stretch across 22 states, and most of the patients are children under the age of 18-years-old.

Although it's rare, the CDC recommends seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms or legs.

On Wednesday, Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville confirmed that a 3-year-old girl was recently diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), an extremely rare condition that causes muscles and reflexes to become weak.

Right now, it's unclear what has caused the AFM cases in Illinois, Colorado, and Pittsburgh.

Diagnosing AFM can be tricky, in part because there's no known cause for the illness.

Follow-up with patients from the 2014 and 2016 waves has shown that most children do not recover from acute flaccid myelitis, for which there now is no cure. There has been one AFM-related death, which happened in 2017.

Since the condition was first recognized by CDC in 2014, the agency has confirmed 362 cases.

"We don't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or the reasons why they may be at higher risk".

AFM can arise after an infection and affects the nervous system, according to health officials. Scientists are investigating a number of causes, including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said on its website.

The virus has been confirmed for 62 cases in 22 states, including seven in Minnesota, according to media reports.

"And certainly after three cycles of this, when we've looked through all the normal agents, we're looking beyond that to see if there are things beyond normal infectious diseases that could cause this", said Messonnier.

Some patients recover quickly, while others experience paralysis and require ongoing care.

CDC began tracking the condition in 2014, when there were 120 confirmed cases. However, experts say that initial indications from a small number of cases suggest a grim outlook. But Messonnier cautioned that it would be "premature" to conclude that this year will be the same as the earlier years. But the season has not ended, and several possible AFM cases remain under investigation.

The condition is not new, but the CDC said it saw an increase in cases beginning in 2014.

"We don't know why in the majority of cases, we don't even find a cause for the illness, we can't determine what virus may have caused it, and so that's been challenging nationwide", said Susann Ahrabi-Fard, communicable disease epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Those who are exposed to mosquitoes (which may carry West Nile virus) can use clothing and repellent to protect themselves from possible exposure.

There is also no official cause which means no definite form of treatment, something Roanoke mother Brittany Hoff knows too well after she said her son was diagnosed. She said that most AFM cases occur in the late summer and fall.

The Norton cases are believed to be the only ones in Kentucky to date so far this year.

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