6 Minnesota children sickened by polio-like illness — CDC

Stock image of a sick child

The Minnesota state health department said all six cases occurred after mid-September, and all six kids have been hospitalized.

Health authorities in the United States said this week that they were investigating an unusual spike in cases of a rare condition that causes limb paralysis and severe muscle weakness in children. Because the virus was present in many early confirmed cases of AFM, the CDC believes it to be a primary cause of the condition. CDC has been actively investigating these AFM cases, and we continue to receive information about suspected AFM cases. "It's incredibly heartbreaking to see this".

"It's always important to practice disease prevention steps, such as staying up-to-date on vaccines, washing your hands, and protecting yourself from mosquito bites", the CDC said on a page devoted to AFM.

Colorado has had 14 AFM cases so far this year, according to Colorado state epidemioloogist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found. CDC specialists will make the final determination if these cases are AFM. Arm and leg weakness are common symptoms, but the disease can also involve facial weakness; difficulty swallowing, speaking and passing urine; numbness; and tingling. Between 2014 and 2018, the CDC received reports of more than 360 cases.

Indeed, AFM is exceedingly rare: The CDC estimates that fewer than one in a million people in the US get it each year, though it has been on the rise since a 2014 outbreak, sparking a CDC investigation.


The regular cases in Minnesota are of children under age 10. AFM cases have been reported from across the state, including the Twin Cities, central Minnesota, and northeastern Minnesota.

Without a clear cause, it's not possible to say whether more children will be diagnosed with AFM, Ehresmann says. Minnesota saw three AFM cases that year.

The patients' symptoms have been most similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, and West Nile virus. It mainly affects children.

AFM can be developed from a viral infection, although its exact cause is unknown.

If parents see potential symptoms of AFM in their child, (for example, if he or she is not using an arm) they should contact their health care provider as soon as possible. The condition can be diagnosed by examining a person's nervous system, taking a magnetic resonance imaging scan and testing the cerebral spinal fluid.

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