Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, polio-like disease

Desiree Burns
October 11, 2018

- A mysterious neurological condition called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) has made headlines in recent weeks, with officials looking into several suspected cases in Minnesota, Colorado and here in Chicago. Cases have been reported in the metro, central and northeastern Minnesota.

Two cases are in King County, one in each Pierce, Lewis and Snohomish counties. Symptoms can include facial muscle weakness, seen as droopiness; issues moving the eyes or droopy eyelids; issues swallowing; or slurred speech. Four of the five had fever of 100.4 F or greater.

"We've been vigilant", Sanford Health Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Clifford Mauriello said. "Isolation protocols and infection control procedures are in place and we are working with the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department to further monitor and evaluate the patient conditions". "We'll continue to investigate and share information when we have it".

Doctors now don't know a lot about how AFM spreads.

AFM typically affects young children and creates polio-like symptoms. Some people with AFM may be unable to urinate.

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However, a person can catch a virus from someone that leads to AFM. Potential causes can be viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said.

There is no vaccine for AFM or a vaccine for enterovirus, a virus doctors know is associated with AFM.

The CDC estimates that less than a million people will get AFM every year in the United States. Back in 2016, Washington state had 10 cases of AFM.

In 2017, three cases and five so far in 2018. Most said parents can do is encouraging kids to wash their hands, teaching them to cover their mouths with their elbow when they cough or sneeze, and keep them home if they are sick.

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