Minnesota Children Diagnosed With Rare 'Polio-Like' Illness

Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children

AFM is believed to be caused by viruses, notably the enterovirus D68. There were 33 in 2017 and 149 in 2016.

AFM cases first spiked in the United States in August 2014.

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. Health officials are collecting information about the cases from health providers and are in contact with the CDC, the MDH said.

Minnesota typically sees, at most, one case of acute flaccid myelitis a year, so it's concerning that such a large group has presented with the illness at the same time. Since then, however, the Minnesota Department of Health said it has seen an AFM case about once a year. AFM cases have been reported from across the state, including the Twin Cities, central Minnesota, and northeastern Minnesota.

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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. If their children start to show symptoms of AFM, they are being told to bring them to the hospital immediately.

The Minnesota state health department said all six cases occurred after mid-September, and all six kids have been hospitalized. "Everything that can be done is being done", Osterholm said.

While there are a variety of possible causes for the disease, there is no known cure. Viruses in the enterovirus genus - a group that includes the common cold and the polio virus - are most closely associated with AFM, though past cases have also been linked to West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, Saint Louis encephalitis, and adenoviruses.

He emphasized that early work-up is helpful for finding the underlying cause of the AFM cases and added that most children eventually recover from the damage from the spinal cord inflammation.



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