Five questions: The rare, polio-like illness affecting children

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The disease is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. The Illinois State Health Department, however, is investigating a possible case that involves an adult.

As of now, Dr. Carlson said AFM appears to affect children and he's not seen a case with teenagers.

The CDC says AFM is a neurologic illness that affects the spinal cord, causing arm and leg weakness.

Rodney E. Rohde, chair of the Texas State University Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) program, is closely following AFM reports coming out of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

"Even with an increase in cases since 2014, AFM remains a very rare condition".

The classic presentation is sudden or rapid onset of weakness of the arms, legs, or facial muscles.

"Until you actually identify the virus or whatever microbial agent it is with a laboratory confirmation test you can not be 100 percent certain", he said.

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Confirmed AFM cases that CDC has been made aware of as of October 16, 2018.

Doctors don't know what causes AFM, but Kassam said it may be related to class of viruses known as enteroviruses, which also causes polio.

"This is a mystery so far, and we haven't solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly", Messonnier said. However, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says that it is now hard to interpret AFM trends as data collection is new and mostly voluntary. "When you are talking about infants and toddlers they are not fully immune competent", Rohde says.

All four of her children had come down with a cold at the same time, but young Abigail's condition continued to worsen despite her mother's best efforts to keep her kids healthy. The CDC says the cause could be a viral or triggered by an environmental toxin, or something else.

Acute flaccid myelitis is a development of the EV-D68 virus, which can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, or no symptoms at all, according to a release from the state health department. There are 155 cases under investigation nationwide.

"You should seek medical care right away if you or your child develops any of these symptoms".

Sutfin says parents should protect their children against mosquito bites, and make sure they are up to date on their vaccines, as well as encourage frequent handwashing.

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