Cases of a rare polio-like illness causing weakness and paralysis in US children are also on the rise in Canada, one doctor is warning.
There have been 386 reported cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)-a serious condition that causes weakness in the arms or legs-in the US between August 2014 and September 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some with AFM will feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes.
"This remains a rare syndrome, but the similarities to poliomyelitis, polio-like illness, are concerning and bear close monitoring", says Dr Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, according to Yahoo!
AFM cases on the rise in the U.S. Story continues below video.
So far in 2018, there are 62 confirmed cases of AFM in 22 states. In 2017, one child who had AFM died, CDC said.
The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is also reporting cases of the disease.
Most people don't even go to the doctor with a virus, and doctors rarely test patients to see which virus they have.
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Symptoms have been most similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including polio-virus, non-polio enteroviruses and West Nile Virus.
HuffPost Canada has reached out to the Canadian Paediatric Society for comment. "We have not confirmed the cause for the majority of these cases", the agency said.
The average age of the USA patients this year is four, and doctors in Canada are reporting a similar pattern.
"At this moment, we don't know if it's a virus that is coming and producing direct damage of the gray matter in the spinal cord, or if a virus is triggering immunological responses that produce a secondary damage in the spinal cord", Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, a neurological disease expert at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who recently authored a paper on AFM, told Kaiser Health News. "There isn't a consistent cause, and we don't understand the whole physiology behind it at this point".
It's unknown whether the paralysis will get better or remain the same.
Viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders may play a role, CDC noted. It causes hand, foot and mouth disease.
"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child", she said during a CDC telebriefing. The symptoms include: sudden weakness in the arms or legs, facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing.