Illinois, Colorado, Washington report cases of polio-like illness in children

6 Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, polio-like disease

At least one person has been confirmed to have an illness called AFM in Travis County, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

The condition, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), affects the nervous system, primarily through the spinal cord.

Like many children, Julia Payne, the toddler at Lurie, started to show signs of weakness and problems breathing on her own after a prolonged cold, said Dr. Marcelo Malakooti, the medical director for Lurie's pediatric intensive care unit.

AFM can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases, like transverse myelitis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

State health officials are telling doctors to be on the lookout for a rare disorder that causes paralysis after six Minnesota children were diagnosed with the disease in recent weeks.

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they have information on more than 300 cases dating back to then across the country. "It's very polio-like in presentation", infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. He said, "If one arm isn't working correctly, or one leg, or one side of the body, or if you notice an asymmetry in the face where one side looks very different than the other side, that child should be evaluated".

According to the CDC, other viruses like poliovirus and West Nile may sometimes lead to AFM.

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How many children have been diagnosed with AFM? .

Symptoms include a sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and difficulty moving facial muscles.

How many cases have there been? "It nearly has to run its course and then you see where it settles out", he adds.

The family of a baby diagnosed with a rare condition is sharing their story in hopes of helping other parents.

Nationwide, a total of 38 people in 16 states were found by the CDC to have confirmed cases of AFM between January and September this year.

The disease, health officials say, is hard to positively confirm by anyone other than a few specially trained neurologists.

The agency recommends staying up-to-date on vaccines, washing hands and protecting against mosquito bites as ways to prevent the disease. In addition to the pair of cases at CHOP, three cases are also being treated in Pittsburgh, 6ABC reported.

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