Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children

Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children

At least six children under age 10 are facing paralysis, long-term health problems are even death after contracting a "rare but potentially severe condition", according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

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. Unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM.

AFM can develop from a viral infection, although its exact cause is unknown. Other symptoms are neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

Minnesota saw three cases that year and typically sees less than one case per year. Doctors stress the importance of recognizing the early signs of AFM and seeking care as soon as possible.Treatment focuses only on alleviating symptoms.

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The CDC estimates that fewer than one in a million people will get the rare condition each year.

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

The illness may be rare but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 362 cases of acute flaccid myelitis in the US between August 2014 through August 2018.

This coincided with a national outbreak of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), leading experts to believe acute flaccid myelitis is associated with the respiratory illness. "The department is also in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to share information".

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