CDC expresses concern over mysterious surge in polio-like paralysis cases

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Across the USA there were 38 confirmed cases in 16 states this year through September 30, according to the CDC.

A rare condition causing weakness in the arms or legs - and sometimes paralysis - has been confirmed in 62 children so far this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

One case of a polio-like disease has been confirmed in MA, the Department of Public Health announced.

A spokesperson with DPH told 7News that one case has been confirmed in the Bay State, while officials investigate five others.

The CDC said the condition isn't new, "but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new". The first case in Maryland this year was contracted September 21, a spokeswoman for the department said in an email.

About 90 percent of the cases are children who have suffered muscle weakness or paralysis, including in the face, neck, back or limbs.

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"We have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these AFM cases", Messonnier admitted.

"Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases", Messonnier said.

Possible causes being considered include viruses that affect the digestive system called enteroviruses, and possibly strains of rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, she said.

"We're actually looking at everything". "This is a mystery so far, and we haven't solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly". Symptom onset is generally quite sudden, and Messonnier urged parents to seek medical care quickly for children displaying these symptoms.

Five children in Maryland have contracted symptoms of a virus similar to polio this fall, according to the state health department. She also said West Nile virus hasn't been linked to any of these cases, either. Some patients recover completely, while others continue to struggle with muscle weakness. No one finding can explain all the cases, she said.

"As a parent myself I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", Messonnier said. Since the phenomenon began in 2014, she said, the rate of infections has been less than one case per 1 million children in the country.

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