Polio-like disease on the rise in Minnesota

Health officials report 6 cases of rare, polio-like virus in Minnesota

The two children are among nine recent cases of AFM - all involving minors - reported across the state, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

All the children showed systems of a respiratory illness the week before developing symptoms of AFM.

Earlier this month, six Minnesota children were diagnosed with the disease.

This disease affects the nervous system, specifically the area of a person's spinal cord called gray matter, according to the CDC.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that two Chicago-area children are being treated at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago for the illness - including 2-year-old Julia Payne, who has been fighting the illness for almost a month.

There have been 38 confirmed cases in 16 states so far.

"At this point there isn't evidence that would point to a single source of illness among these cases", Dr. Scott Lindquist, state infectious disease epidemiologist at the Department of Health, said.

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How many children have been diagnosed with AFM? . "We're working closely with medical providers and public health agencies".

It resembles polio, but unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM. "We'll continue to investigate and share information when we have it". A 2-year-old girl was recently diagnosed in the Chicago area, and UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh confirmed that three children are now being treated for AFM at their facility. Most of the cases nationwide have been in children.

Since 2015, when IL began monitoring reports of AFM in the state, four confirmed cases have been identified.

"What we do know is that AFM can be caused by lots of different things, and one of those things is a viral infection", Dr. Meade said.

Symptoms can include sudden arm or leg weakness, a loss of reflexes, facial droopiness or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, or slurred speech, the CDC says. What causes it is unknown, possibly a virus, but doctors just don't know.

Even with extensive lab testing, AFM is hard to diagnose, because it so similar to other conditions, including poliovirus, West Nile virus and adenoviruses, the CDC reports. "Less than one in a million people in the United States get AFM each year", the CDC says.

While there is no cure, health experts say you should take preventative measures including washing your hands or coughing into your elbow.

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