CDC, partners probe 127 polio-like cases in 22 states

Acute flaccid myelitis, also called AFM, is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system and causes the muscles and reflexes to suddenly become weak, she said Tuesday.

The long-term effects of the disease are also unknown.

MA has seen a total of 16 confirmed cases in children since 2014, plus one probable case in an adult.

Medical experts aren't sure what causes AFM, but it can occur as a result of a variety of viral illnesses including enteroviruses, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses.

"Any weakness, including trouble swallowing, weakness of an extremity, especially in a child who has recently gone through signs of an infection, those would be the main red flags", said Sarah Hopkins.

In addition to viruses, potential causes may include environmental toxins and genetic disorders, according to the CDC, and it "can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases". In 2016, there were 149 cases.

Once diagnosed, some patients have recovered quickly, but some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care, Messonnier said. More than 90% have been in children, and the average age is 4 years.

The condition is not new, but officials started to see a rise in cases in 2014; and there was another spike in 2016.

There is no known cause or treatment, a state Department of Public Health advisory said.

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The agency knows that poliovirus is not the cause of these cases because the CDC has tested every single stool specimen from patients and none have tested positive for poliovirus.

20, the CDC had confirmed 38 cases in 16 states, which aren't required to report AFM cases to the CDC.

That's up from 22 people who were said to have it in 2015.

"Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

Mary Anne Jackson, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and interim dean of the school of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said numerous patients she saw were healthy children before falling ill with the disease. There have been cases each year since, but the numbers have been higher on alternate years.

Parents can best protect their children from serious diseases by taking prevention steps, such as washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

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. Some children paralyzed by AFM have eventually regained their ability to walk, but need time. A spokeswoman for hospital said they have notified the health department and are working with the CDC to learn more about the illness.

"My husband that noticed her arm was kind of just hanging there", her mother, Carlene, said.

Dana Hedgpeth and Justin Wm.

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