Six Cases of Rare, Polio-like Illness in MN Children

Six Cases of Rare, Polio-like Illness in MN Children

The condition is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, which attacks the nervous system and can lead to arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle reflexes.

Since mid-September, six children under the age of 10 were hospitalized and diagnosed with AFM in Minnesota. "Because the causes of AFM are unknown, we urge the CDC to provide more information immediately about preventive measures and treatments".

"The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found", the Washington State Department of Health said in a release on Wednesday. She also requested the agency answer seven questions about its response efforts by October 16 and conduct a member-level briefing for senators seeking more information on the issue.

Two-year-old Julia Payne is one of two children being treated for AFM in Chicago. "We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly, and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care", the CDC said. That's down from 33 cases for all of 2017. The average for the state is less than one case a year.

Although we are still learning about AFM and its causes, being up to date on all recommended vaccinations, including poliovirus, is one way to protect yourself and your family from diseases that can cause AFM.

AFM mainly affects children, for reasons which remain unclear.


AFM cases first spiked in the United States in August 2014. Symptoms typically begin with a fever or cough, followed by sudden weakness in limbs, drooping of the eyes, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing. In severe cases, children might have trouble breathing and need a ventilator because of muscle weakness. Doctors stress the importance of recognizing symptoms early and seek care as soon as possible.

In September 14 report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Colorado health officials said in that May Children's Hospital Colorado had notified them of an increase in meningitis and encephalitis in pediatric patients who tested positive for enterovirus, with EV-A71 identified in 34 children with neurologic disease.

Though medical researchers believe environmental toxins and genetics may come into play as well, the condition appears to arise as a complication of certain viral respiratory infections in children - very few adult cases have been reported.

What are the symptoms of AFM?

These symptoms are similar to polio or the West Nile Virus.

The children have acute flaccid myelitis or AFM, a weakening of the nerves that resembles polio.

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