6 Minnesota children sickened by polio-like illness — CDC

6 Minnesota children sickened by polio-like illness — CDC

6 Minnesota children sickened by polio-like illness — CDC

The Minnesota Department of Health identified the illness as acute flaccid myelitis, and said it was first reported on September 20.

Acute flaccid myelitis affects the nervous system and can lead to the weakening of muscles, health official said. "Collecting information about suspected AFM cases is relatively new, and it is voluntary for most states to send this information to CDC". In 2014, a large outbreak coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness causes by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), but intensive investigations have not consistently found a specific pathogen in spinal fluid samples. Symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms and legs, neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop, and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said as of Sep 30, there have been 38 cases reported from 16 states.

The case of Orville Young, 4, was among the first in Minnesota to be reported.

The Minnesota state health department said all six cases occurred after mid-September, and all six kids have been hospitalized.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said AFM presents like polio or West Nile virus, estimates that fewer than one in a million people in the US will get AFM each year.

Because AFM can develop from a viral infection, the Minnesota health department recommends that families follow "basic steps" to avoid those infections, including by washing hands, staying home if you're sick and covering your coughs and sneezes.

If parents notice symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis, they should see a doctor immediately.

However, he said it wouldn't be surprising to see an enterovirus fill an infectious disease niche left by polio, given that polio is also caused by an enterovirus. "Disease investigators are working aggressively with health care providers to gather information about the cases", the Minnesota Department of Public Health said in a statement. By the end of that year, 120 people had been diagnosed in 34 states.

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