At least two local children have rare polio-like illness; 8 statewide

Lynette PayneOct 12, 2018

AFM impacts "the area of spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak", the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

"Some children have persisting swallowing problems so they're still dealing with the complications of using a feeding tube".

The CDC recommends getting children vaccinated against the poliovirus, as well as protecting against bites from mosquitos (which carry the West Nile virus).

For example, in Minnesota, cases of AFM were generally stagnant at about one case per year, but now six children have been confirmed to have AFM in 2018 alone. Numbness or tingling is rare in people with AFM, although some people have pain in their arms or legs.

All of the cases have been reported on the west side of the state with two children in King County and one child in Pierce County, Lewis County and Snohomish County. Eight cases have been reported statewide.

"At this point there isn't evidence that would point to a single source of illness among these cases", said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state infectious disease epidemiologist at the Department of Health.

Five western Washington children under the age of 6 have been hospitalized for a "sudden onset of paralysis of one of more limbs". "We're working closely with medical providers and public health agencies".

Other AFM symptoms may include: facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, or difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech. There isn't a vaccine that could prevent AFM and there isn't a vaccine that causes the condition, medical experts said. It is actively investigating AFM cases, and trying to unearth more information about the mysterious condition. Nationwide, 38 cases in 16 states have been reported and there is still no known cause.

The CDC says it got information on 362 cases of the illness in the US from August 2014 through August 2018.

Since 2015, when IL began monitoring reports of AFM in the state, four confirmed cases have been identified. What causes it is unknown, possibly a virus, but doctors just don't know. Fewer than 1 in 1 million people will contract AFM, even when these new numbers are taken into account.

The health department says there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, but washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, cleaning surfaces with disinfectants, and staying up-to-date on immunizations is recommended.

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