Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, polio-like disease

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health announced there have been a total of six reports of pediatric acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) since September 20.

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh confirmed Tuesday afternoon that three children being treated at their facility are suspected of having the polio-like disease. "The CDC has been asking us to pay attention to this for quite a while".

Since Sept. 20, six children under the age of 10 have been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a serious nervous system condition that is believed to affect the spinal cord and gray matter, causing muscle weakness, which can lead to paralysis, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Its origins are a mystery, but officials say a virus can cause some cases. "As AFM affects mostly children and has no known cure, it is imperative that CDC conduct an expedited investigation and response to AFM infections", Klobuchar wrote. It can impair muscle reflexes and cause weakness in arms and legs.

Acute flaccid myelitis is thought to happen after someone contracts a virus, like a poliovirus, West Nile virus, or adenovirus, the CDC says. Symptoms can include facial muscle weakness, seen as droopiness; issues moving the eyes or droopy eyelids; issues swallowing; or slurred speech.

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There is no treatment for this disease. "It nearly has to run its course and then you see where it settles out", he adds.

The CDC reported 362 total cases from August 2014 to August 2018 with a major rise in cases reported in 2016 across 39 states.

Doctors are encouraging people to practice what are called "general prevention strategies" - including washing your hands with soap and water, getting vaccinated and preventing mosquito bites.

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