Mysterious paralyzing illness reported in 22 states — CDC

Cases of Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Reported in 22 states

Cases of Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Reported in 22 states

Other possible cases are still under investigation.

"We know this can be frightening for parents", Messonnier said.

The cause for the rare condition is still unclear.

Health officials in Oklahoma say an Oklahoma child has been diagnosed with a polio-like illness that is sweeping the country.

On Monday, CNN reached out to health departments in every state and received responses from 48 states plus the District of Columbia.

At the press conference, Messonnier emphasized how rare the disease is. Most of the cases have involved children.

Despite its similarity to polio, none of the AFM patients has tested positive for the poliovirus, Messonnier said.

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a syndrome characterized by rapid onset of flaccid weakness in one or more limbs.

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Health officials don't have an exact cause of AFM. This year's AFM outbreak is gaining attention because there are 127 suspected cases so far. There have been cases each year since, but the numbers have been higher on alternate years. "You can't tie it up in a neat bow". Sixty-two cases of the rare but serious condition have now been confirmed in 22 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The CDC says there are preventative measures people can take to reduce the risk of infections that could lead to AFM. In 2016, there were 149 cases. Since the CDC started keeping track in August 2014, there have been 386 cases of AFM - mostly in children. Some children paralyzed by AFM have eventually regained their ability to walk, but need time.

Kelly Tunan's 5-year-old son was diagnosed with the disease in 2015 and had to undergo several surgeries on his right leg and right foot.

"The cases are from all over the state", Ehresmann said. The study was published in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. "The search for a biomarker from the blood or cerebrospinal fluid would be helpful to identify those at elevated risk".

There is no specific treatment for AFM. This can require urgent ventilator support (breathing machine).

The syndrome is suspected to be caused by one or more viruses.

While just one person in a million gets it every year, it's a growing health concern. The CDC is also considering the possibility that environmental toxins could be triggering the sudden muscle weakness. Parents who want to protect their children should encourage the same sort of good hygiene that protects kids against cold and flu, such as washing their hands frequently and covering coughs or sneezes, Dominguez said.

"It's not really highly exciting stuff", she said, "but it's a good reminder of things you can do on a daily basis".

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