Six children in Minnesota diagnosed with rare ‘polio-like’ disease

Desiree Burns
October 8, 2018

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The illness, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), affects the nervous system and causes muscles to weaken, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which is now investigating the six cases that have occurred since mid-September. The scary diagnosis is not a new one, but it has been increasing since 2014.

On average, the Minnesota Department of Health sees only about one case per year. Traveling through the spinal cord, this disease results in lots of recognizable symptoms similar to polio. Other symptoms are neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

If your child is experiencing any symptoms of AFM, you should contact your health care provider immediately.

A 2016 report found there were 120 cases recorded across 34 states from August through December 2014. Children with asthma are more vulnerable to an infection from EVD68. "There's not much that can be done and as a parent that's very hard to deal with", seven-year-old Quinton Hill's father told Kare 11.

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The CDC says it's important to practice disease prevention steps: staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and preventing mosquito bites. "Just to have him lift his head up a bit more to look to the side was a blessing, because we didn't know if that was coming back".

"There's a group on Facebook with a few hundred parents who are dealing with this and that helps", Hill says.

AFM appears to mainly affect children, and all of the cases in Minnesota have occurred in children under 10, the MDH said in an October 5 statement.

According to health officials, since September 20, six pediatric cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported to the health department.

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