Rare Polio-like Illness On The Rise In Children

6 Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, polio-like disease

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said it has confirmed 14 cases of acute flaccid myelitis this year.

The rare condition can be caused by a virus, a genetic disorder and environmental toxins.

Cases of a rare polio-like illness that are turning up across the country are also appearing here in North Texas.

AFM is a polio-like illness that affects a person's nervous system, including the spinal cord.

How many cases have there been?

In recent weeks, six cases of the illness, known as acute flaccid myelitis(AFM), have been diagnosed in children in Minnesota - a state the typically sees less than one case of AFM per year, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. By the end of that year, 120 people had been diagnosed in 34 states.

With cases on the rise, parents like Wells say she'll keep those symptoms in mind.

We've been reporting about the polio-like illness affecting two children here in Chicago, nine in northern IL and others across the country, but how concerned should parents be about the spread to their children?

"All cases are among infants and children under age 6 who all reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM", the Washington State Department of Health said in a statement Wednesday.

Most AFM sufferers notice sudden muscle weakness in their limbs and loss of reflexes.

"I just felt so sad for him, that this thing we didn't know about and couldn't protect him from had happened and had taken a lot away from him", Michael Young said.

The state health department is working with the CDC to determine if these are indeed cases of AFM.

There have been 38 confirmed cases in 16 states so far. It may also be helpful to wash hands often with soap and water, the agency says. Chundi says doctors started seeing AFM cases, as far back as 2014 with a total of 362 nationwide to date.

It's an afternoon at the park for mom Susie Wells and her little ones, she says her kid's health is her most important priority, so hearing about five children in western Washington with AFM caught her attention. After the 120 cases in 2014, there were 22 in 2015, 149 in 2016, and 33 previous year, according to the agency.

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