Mysterious paralyzing illness reported in 22 states — CDC

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

And for now, it's hard to say if 2018 will equal or surpass spikes seen in 2014 and 2016, Messonnier said, adding that state and federal health officials haven't finished the whole diagnostic algorithm for numerous cases reported over the past several weeks.

In most cases, the patient's arms or legs become weak, similar to the results of infection with polio. A seventh case has been "clinically diagnosed", but remains under review by the CDC.

The increase in cases appeared to begin in 2014, when the CDC started tracking the illness.

Health officials urge parents to be vigilant, as there's a lot unknown about the syndrome and what causes it.

Dr. Messonnier said, "We want to encourage parents to seek medical care right away if you or your child develops symptoms of AFM, such as sudden weakness and loss of muscle tone in your arms or legs". Another kind of virus is suspected, but it's been found in only some of the cases. Besides a sudden onset of paralysis or weakness in the limbs, some patients experience drooping of their face or eyelids, difficulty swallowing or moving the eyes, and slurred speech.

There is no treatment specifically for AFM, but affected children can undergo physical and occupational therapy to maximize their strength and adapt to their limitations.

As of yet, there is no known effective treatment for the condition, but the vast majority of patients do recover with treatment.

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Health officials call the condition acute flaccid myelitis. Minnesota just confirmed its seventh case of acute flaccid myelitis-and a possible case is now being investigated here in North Dakota as well. None of the US patients tested positive for polio, a crippling and often deadly disease which was eliminated in this country thanks to the polio vaccine.

Last year the number dropped to 16, making the pattern one that hits harder every other year. No pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.

To help prevent the illness' spread, the CDC advises proper hand washing, staying up to date on vaccines and using mosquito repellent to avoid bites. The disorder has been diagnosed in children who have received some of their recommended vaccinations and in unvaccinated children, she said.

Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare".

CDC is not releasing a list of the 22 states with confirmed and suspected cases because of privacy issues.

States are reporting their cases to the CDC, Messonnier said.

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