U.S. doctors baffled as rare spinal disease spreads across 22 states

Paralyzing polio-like illness affecting mainly children is confirmed in 22 states CDC says

CDC has been actively investigating these AFM cases, and we continue to receive information about suspected AFM cases.

For example, the CDC doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or why some are at higher risk, she said.

Last year the number dropped to 16, making the pattern one that hits harder every other year.

A unsafe and rare disease that's similar to the polio virus is on the rise in the U.S., and it has health officials baffled.

AFM can cause weakness and pain in the arms and legs.

Symptoms of AFM include neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop, and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

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"Overall, the rate of AFM over the years that it has been diagnosed which is since 2014 is less than one in a million."
That does not include the case being treated at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says they had referred a case from this summer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, the only detail being released about the patient is that he or she is an Oklahoma resident under 18-years-old. She said the cases were definitely not caused by the polio virus, which has not been found in any of the stool samples from affected children. A research team led by Van Haren was the first to link acute flaccid myelitis with EV D68, back in 2015.

"We have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these AFM cases", she said. West Nile virus is also not a culprit, she said. Glatter said the long-term effects of AFM are unclear at this time.

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Doctors diagnosed Aamira with AFM. There has been one AFM-related death, which happened in 2017.

While there is no specific treatment for AFM, doctors may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.

"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child".

But both Glatter and Ehresmann were quick to reiterate that AFM is very rare.

"Getting vaccinated, taking precaution against mosquitoes, washing hands-all of these things are recommended by the CDC", said CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula.

Scientists at the University of Colorado School of Medicine infected mice with a virus that was circulating during the 2014 AFM outbreak as well as during similar spikes of the disease in 2016 and this year.

Symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness.

This can cause a range of symptoms, from difficulty lifting an arm to severe weakening of the muscles used in breathing.

AFM is still a mystery to health care officials.

"If you see that in your child, it's important to get them to a health provider right away", she said.

"It seems most likely that the virus infects the motor nerves in the spinal column", Benson said.



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