Spike reported nationwide in cases of baffling paralysis in children

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

The mysterious polio-like disorder that's striking children around the country is growing, according to an update from federal health officials Tuesday.

The CDC says pediatric acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is now affecting young children in 22 states following a recent spike in Minnesota.

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", said Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the CDC.

Physicians first began noticing an increase in AFM patients in 2014, with roughly 120 confirmed cases.

Across the US there were 38 confirmed cases in 16 states this year through September 30, according to the CDC. According to the CDC, AFM is a serious condition commonly seen in children that causes weakness in the arms or legs.

The spikes were significantly higher in 2014, 2016 and 2018-to-date than in 2015 or 2017.

In 2014, a large AFM epidemic coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), but in-depth testing of patient samples hasn't consistently found a common cause. Another kind of virus was found in only some of the cases. The condition affects the nervous system and has polio-like symptoms.

Symptoms of AFM include sudden limb weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial and eyelid drooping, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech, the CDC said. "And certainly after three cycles of this, when we've looked through all the normal agents, we're looking beyond that to see if there are things beyond normal infectious diseases that could cause this", said Messonnier.

The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said.

That's when we spoke with the families of 4-year-old Camdyn Carr, who's now fighting the disease, and 7-year-old Sebastian Bottomley, who previously fought AFM.

Messonnier said some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly while others continue to struggle with paralysis. "So I think that should be reassuring to people", Dominguez said. "Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now".

But the agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk nor why they may be at higher risk.

CDC is not releasing a list of the 22 states with confirmed and suspected cases because of privacy issues.

The CDC is actively investigating and monitoring disease activity and recommends taking standard prevention measures such as hand-washing, protecting oneself from mosquito bites and staying up-to-date on vaccinations. States are not required to provide this information to CDC, but they have been voluntarily reporting their data.

CNN reached out to health departments in every state; 48 states responded, plus the District of Columbia.



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