155 cases of polio-like illness under investigation, CDC says

Acute Flaccid Myelitis, Which Causes Paralysis In Kids, Reported In Canada

This graph depicts the confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been made aware of as of October 16, 2018, with onset of the condition through September 30, 2018.

At least 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states this year, and at least 65 additional illnesses in those states are being investigated, according to the CDC. In addition, 120 cases were confirmed in 2014 between August and December.

The condition can be caused by polio, the West Nile virus, and other viruses, officials believe.

While it's a worrying condition, it affects less than one in a million people in the United States each year.

According to NBC's report, most doctors and public health officials have no idea what viruses are going around until it's too late to pinpoint the cause.

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Although the symptoms of AFM have been described as "polio-like", polio has been ruled out as a cause in the US cases, CDC said in a press conference.

"We know this can be frightening for parent", said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, during a telephone briefing to reporters last week. But whatever is causing AFM, it does not seem to cause paralysis or muscle weakness to anywhere near the degree that polio did, said Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, an expert in rare neurological autoimmune disorders at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who has treated some AFM patients.

Palacios said her daughter wants to get up and play, but gets frustrated and doesn't understand why she can't.

"Even with the spike of cases that we have at the moment, it's still an incredibly rare condition", Friedman said.

Venkateswaran said parents should seek medical help if their child is experiencing a sudden weakness in any part of the body, a sudden loss of bowl or bladder control, or neck pain.

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A mystery ailment that causes severe weakness or even paralysis in children has affected hundreds in the US over the last five years. Damage to the nervous system can be long-lasting or permanent.

Known as acute flaccid myelitis, the condition causes muscle weakness in one or more limbs, and typically occurs after some kind of viral infection.

Unfortunately, there's no specific treatment developed for AFM, but doctors who specialize in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses may be able to recommend certain treatments on a case-by-case basis.

"We don't know a lot about the long-term prognosis of AFM right now".

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