A Polio-Like illness is on the rise and is affecting children across the country.
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare condition that can cause paralysis. So far, it has mostly affected children, and 30 states have confirmed cases of AFM. According to the CDC, since 2014, there have been 386 confirmed cases. 62 of these cases have been reported in 2018.
CNN reports the states that have reported confirmed cases are Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. Colorado has the most confirmed cases, at 14.
While the condition is incredibly rare, it is not known what is causing the outbreak. AFM appears to be caused by a viral infection. Many of the cases have tested positive for the enterovirus EV A71, which is common in Asia, but not the United States. EV A71 is a distant relative of polio. Acute flaccid myelitis often affects children, but there have been adult cases reported.
AFM affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. It can cause weakness in one or more limbs and can lead to the inability to walk, or trouble swallowing. Many of these symptoms are similar to polio. Other symptoms include:
• Trouble moving a limb
• Difficulty moving facial muscles, and eye drooping
• Slurred speech
• Difficulty breathing or respiratory failure
Even though the cause of AFM is still unknown, the CDC warns people to practice diseases prevention steps. This includes staying up-to-date on vaccinations and washing your hands regularly.