Outbreak of mysterious polio-like disease plagues residents in 22 states

5 children in Maryland might have a polio-like disease. The CDC is investigating.

Five kids in Maryland may have a polio-like disease, as CDC investigates

Two cases of the disease - acute flaccid myelitis - have been confirmed in MA with another four cases under investigation.

The Department of Public Health has confirmed the second MA case this year of a rare but potentially devastating illness that strikes mostly children and causes muscle weakness or paralysis.

Cases of AFM have been reported in 22 states around the country, and all of those cases have tested negative for polio.

According to the Center for Disease Control, AFM "affects the nervous system, specifically the area of spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak".

About 90 percent of the cases are children who have suffered muscle weakness or paralysis, including in the face, neck, back or limbs. It affects mostly children.

U.S. health officials have issued a warning about a rare condition which attacks the nervous system and spinal cord after 62 new cases of the little-known disease were confirmed across 22 states. "Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now".

Although it is too early to understand how the current season compares to previous ones, she noted, the nation is "on track with what was seen in 2014 and 2016" and will probably have the same number of cases. This year is one of them. Scientists are investigating a number of causes, including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said on its website.

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The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said.

She said that CDC has tested every stool specimen from AFM patients.

The following year, there were 22 confirmed cases in 17 states, and 2016 saw 149 cases in 39 jurisdictions, including D.C. In 2017 there were 33 confirmed cases in 16 states. With the sudden onset of weakness, patients are "generally seeking medical care" and being evaluated by neurologists, infectious disease doctors and pediatricians.

"As a parent myself I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", Messonnier said.

"That's important because enteroviruses cause the common cold", Ellerin said.

So far, the CDC hasn't seen any geographic patterns based on reporting from states. Viruses that can cause the disease include poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses and West Nile virus.

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. Parents should seek medical care right away if their child develops sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs.

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