3 children with Polio-like illness In North Texas

There's been a spike in a rare polio-like disease that mostly affects children. State health officials say 14 cases have been reported in Colorado

A polio-like illness that primarily impacts children is on the rise across the United States.

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. But shortly thereafter, unusual and frightening symptoms, such as limb weakness, face drooping and difficulty talking or swallowing, set in.

It's very rare and typically affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord which could lead to paralysis in some cases. Treatment mainly boils down to alleviating those symptoms.

Learn more about the type of information that helps to determine if a patient has AFM or not. The condition was first described in 2014 and doctors assumed a virus was to blame, but they didn't know which one. For example, in Minnesota, cases of AFM were generally stagnant at about one case per year, but now six children have been confirmed to have AFM in 2018 alone.

All cases are among infants and children under age six who all reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM. The CDC says the condition is not new but there's been an increase in cases starting in 2014.

At this point, doctors are not required to report AFM to the state, so it is possible that there could be unreported cases out there, according to DSHS.

Thirty-eight cases in 16 states this year have been confirmed by the CDC as of September 2018, mostly affecting children. These states include California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

AFM has a variety of causes, the CDC said, including genetic disorders, viruses and environmental toxins.

Health officials said that a single cause of AFM has not been found and often no cause is found.

In previous years, cases of AFM in Colorado and elsewhere have been positive for a different enterovirus, EV-D68.

Two-year-old Julia Payne is one of two children being treated for AFM in Chicago.

Though the CDC says it's not necessarily proven to guard against AFM, they recommend frequent hand-washing with soap and water. It can also be caused by poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses, mosquito-borne viruses (such as West Nile virus or Zika virus) and possibly by non-infectious conditions.

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