Rare, polio-like paralyzing disorder affecting children on the rise, CDC says

Rare illness leaves 3-year-old boy paralyzed

A study of children diagnosed with AFM in Colorado in 2014 found that majority were better one year later, although most also had residual weakness in their arms and legs. There is no treatment but some symptoms can be managed.

The disease is known to hit the nervous system by traveling through the spinal cord.

According to the CDC, there have been 362 confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis since 2014.

"It's very, very rare - it's about one in a million", said Kris Ehresmann with the Minnesota Department of Health.

This is an usually high number of patients, as the state has "typically seen less than one case a year" since the national uptick started in 2014, the release states. It is believed that AFM can be contagious, and for this reason, isolation protocols are in place for patients who are confirmed to have the neurological illness. While AFM doesn't have a cure, the symptoms can be treated and in most cases death can be avoided.

The reported IL cases are preliminary diagnoses and only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control can confirm the diagnosis, according to Arnold. These states include California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

"But it won't tell us what's causing the AFM, which virus, which process, that part we still don't know", Dr. Esper says.

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Additionally, the CDC has found a possible link between an increase in a respiratory virus and an increase of AFM.

The Minnesota Health Department, as well as the CDC will continue to collect information an evaluate the cases.

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

AFM can occur as a result of a variety of germs including polio virus and non-polio enteroviruses, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses. You can reduce the chance of mosquito bites by using insect repellent and keeping kids indoors during times when mosquitos are prevalent. It can often infect people with mild flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Again, this is a rare condition. 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.

"If a parent notices a child with a weak or paralyzed limb, they should go to urgent care or the hospital immediately", said Julie Graham, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health.

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