Health officials in 22 states have reported at least 62 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis in 2018 so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials said five kids in Maryland are believed to have contracted a virus this fall that has symptoms similar to polio.
CNN reached out to several health departments across the country, including IL, which reported 10 cases of AFM. The first case in Maryland this year was contracted September 21, a spokeswoman for the department said in an email. Some also experience facial droop, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, or slurred speech. Some patients may not be able to urinate.
Officials have not determined a cause of the rare disease.
Although symptoms resemble polio, no evidence of poliovirus has been found in specimens from any case diagnosed so far, Messonnier said. "We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care", Messonnier said.
Messonnier stressed the rarity of the condition, emphasizing that it happens in fewer than one in a million children in the U.S. So far this year, cases have been confirmed in 22 states, based on findings from MRI studies and the cluster of symptoms a child has. It's a rare disease, but the CDC thought that they might glean more about the nature of the outbreak, as well as clues about how to contain it, by releasing a report to the public.
About 120 confirmed cases were reported in 2014.
Health officials do not know what's causing the increasing number of cases of AFM.
According to yesterday's warning issued by the CDC, the disease could be linked to environmental toxins, genetic disorders or other viruses such as West Nile.
The CDC is investigating 127 reported cases, including the ones that have been confirmed.
More broadly, she noted, "there is a lot we don't know about AFM".
"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child". Parents should seek medical care immediately if their child develops sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs. One child with the disorder died in 2017.
"Nobody really knows treatment protocols, they don't know prognosis, and they can't really give parents an answer as to where this is coming from", she said.
The agency knows that poliovirus is not the cause of these cases, because CDC has tested every single stool specimen from patients, and none have tested positive for poliovirus.
She recommended that parents take routine protections against viral infections, such as keeping up to date on immunizations, washing hands, and avoiding mosquito bites.
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a syndrome characterized by rapid onset of flaccid weakness in one or more limbs.
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