CDC: 127 suspected and confirmed cases of polio-like condition

CDC: 127 suspected and confirmed cases of polio-like condition

AFM affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing arms and legs to suddenly grow weak, sometimes leading to paralysis, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC does not name states with confirmed or suspected cases.

Since the condition was first recognized by CDC in 2014, the agency has confirmed 362 cases.

Another wave hit in 2016, with 149 patients affected in 39 states. That pattern appears to be repeating this year.

This year's numbers are similar to 2016 and 2014.

Experts don't know what causes the disease that can lead to muscle weakness or difficulty breathing.

While officials aren't clear of the exact cause, they say it can occur as a result of a variety of viral illnesses including the polio virus, enteroviruses, West Nile virus and adenoviruses. Some with AFM will feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes. Additional symptoms include facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech. Polio was eradicated in the vaccination. The study was published in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

The CDC has tested many different specimens from patients with this condition for a wide variety of pathogens, or germs, that can cause AFM. "Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now", Messonnier said.

Doctors also aren't anxious about it spreading from child to child in schools because children are exposed to the viruses all the time.

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"That's pretty terrifying. It is terrifying if you are a parent", Kerkering said.

"We're actually looking at everything". No one finding can explain all the cases, she said. Polio, while once widespread, has been largely eradicated due to the polio vaccine. More cases are being reported across the United States.

There is now no cure for AFM, known cause in most cases, or clear explanation for why some people who contract the enterovirus experience symptoms and others do not.

Kerkering said AFM is most common in children. Doctors may also recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness.

Although there is unlikely to be a vaccine or specific treatment anytime soon, there are still things researchers can do to combat AFM, Messacar says, such as keeping better track of enterovirus D68 and A71 infections, learning more about the link between the viruses and AFM, and understanding the genetic changes that have occurred in enterovirus D68 to make it more unsafe. Some patients have recovered and others continue to experience paralysis, requiring ongoing care. The once-healthy child now relies on a wheelchair to get around, a ventilator to breathe and a feeding tube to eat.

We don't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or the reasons why they may be at higher risk.

Hunter was hospitalized with AFM when he was 15 months old.

"3-year-old Aamira is truly one in a million", the hospital wrote on Facebook.

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