U.S. CDC confirms 62 cases of rare polio-like neurological condition

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

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

MA has a confirmed case of a polio-like illness that is being reported across the country.

First recognized in 2014, AFM remains mysterious.

The CDC says it seems to be following an every other year pattern that emerges in the fall. No one knows what causes AFM, although a virus or viruses are suspected.

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"We know this can be frightening for parents, and I know many parents want to know what signs and symptoms they should be looking out for in their children", she said. So far this year, there have been 62 confirmed cases in 22 states. The average age was 4.

The spikes were significantly higher in 2014, 2016 and 2018-to-date than in 2015 or 2017. Nor can they explain why only a handful of infected children developed AFM.

"Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause", Messonnier said, dispelling reports that AFM was possibly linked to polio.

Doctors don't know much about AFM and the lack of answers is what is worrying Doug and Mary Finke. Messonnier said West Nile virus, which had been listed as a possible cause on CDC's website, is not causing the illnesses.

A polio-like illness that can cause paralysis in children is now here in the Carolinas.

The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said.

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"This is a mystery so far", Messonnier said, describing AFM as a "pretty dramatic disease", which preys on a child's nervous system.

The long-term effects of the disease are also unknown.

"As a parent myself I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", Messonnier said.

"It's rare, but certainly when you hear about it it's very scary for parents", CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula told "CBS This Morning".

Experts say the early symptoms of the disease include arm or leg weakness, and loss of muscle tone.

According to the Douglas County Health Department, a suspected case of AFM is being investigated in a young child.

Because the symptoms are similar, AFM is often confused with polio, a crippling and potentially fatal disease that is caused by a virus. Some merely have difficulty moving the eye or the face; some have a single weakening limb.

The disorder has been diagnosed in unvaccinated children and also in children who have received some of their recommended vaccinations, she said.

All of the worries about AFM just give parents and grandparents one more thing to worry about. He continues to get therapy to strengthen his muscles and uses electric stimulation pads to help rejuvenate his damaged nerves.

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