Cute flaccid myelitis: Three new cases of rare polio-like illness emerge

There's been a spike in a rare polio-like disease that mostly affects children. State health officials say 14 cases have been reported in Colorado

Since the CDC began tracking AFM in 2014, 362 cases have been reported in the United States, 38 of them reported across 16 states this year.

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh confirmed Tuesday afternoon that three children being treated at their facility are suspected of having the polio-like disease. "The patients are now undergoing diagnostic procedures and treatment", the hospital said in a statement to Pittsburgh's Channel 11. "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".

The Minnesota Department of Health put out an alert last week, stating that six cases have been reported in children across that state over the past several weeks. It can impair muscle reflexes and cause weakness in arms and legs.

Symptoms of AFM include limb weakness, facial drooping and trouble swallowing or talking.

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Though officials have observed a rise in cases since 2014, the condition's origins remain unclear.

AFM has a variety of causes, the CDC said, including genetic disorders, viruses and environmental toxins. "As AFM affects mostly children and has no known cure, it is imperative that CDC conduct an expedited investigation and response to AFM infections". Instead, people who are diagnosed with it are given "aggressive supportive care", Adalja says. "It nearly has to run its course and then you see where it settles out", he adds.

The agency recommends staying up-to-date on vaccines, washing hands and protecting against mosquito bites as ways to prevent the disease.

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