IL reports 9 recent acute flaccid myelitis cases

It's called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM, and it has left health officials puzzled. Only one case has been confirmed this year, but officials are still investigating the latest possible cases.

Read on for a look at the illness and what you should know about it.

"UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is taking care of three children with suspected Acute Flaccid Myelitis". The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they have information on more than 300 cases dating back to then across the country. They may also experience drooping eyelids, facial droop and slurred speech, among other symptoms. These symptoms are remarkably similar to polio or the West Nile Virus.

What can cause the illness?

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that health care providers in the state have reported nine clinically-diagnosed cases of a rare condition that afflicts the nervous system, in particular the spinal cord. 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.

"Oftentimes, despite extensive lab tests, the cause of a patient's AFM is not identified", the CDC says.

"The CDC has acknowledged that 362 cases of AFM have been reported since 2014, indicating an increasing infection rate".

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There was a cluster of nine cases of AFM in Washington state back in 2016 and three cases past year.

The condition is rare, with only 1 in 1 million people in the United States contracting the disease, according to the CDC.

It also does not include the cases in Minnesota or IL, as they are not confirmed.

A hospital spokesperson couldn't release details about the patient's age, condition, or sex due to health privacy laws.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that two Chicago-area children are being treated at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago for the illness - including 2-year-old Julia Payne, who has been fighting the illness for almost a month.

Since 2015, when IL began monitoring reports of AFM in the state, four confirmed cases have been identified.

"Of the AFM cases, 11 tested positive for enterovirus A71, one tested positive for enterovirus D68, and two tested negative for enteroviruses", the department said in an online statement Tuesday.

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