Case of mysterious paralyzing illness reported in Kentucky, Ohio

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The illness can lead to serious complications - including paralysis or respiratory failure - and requires immediate medical attention.

The CDC says this is still a rare condition that affects less than one in 1 million people per year.

An analysis found the average age of the patients in confirmed cases over the past five years is 4 years old, and 90 percent occur in children 18 and younger.

20, the CDC had confirmed 38 cases in 16 states, which aren't required to report AFM cases to the CDC. The CDC has been monitoring an increase in cases since 2014 and on Tuesday reported that it has confirmed 386 instances of AFM across the country over the last four years, majority involving children. More studies that include a larger proportion of confirmed cases are needed to better understand long-term outcomes, she said.

At this point, health officials are not sure what causes AFM but say that it can occur after a viral infection, West Nile Virus and other illnesses.

On Monday, CNN reached out to health departments in every state and received responses from 48 states plus the District of Columbia.

Andrea Kunicky, spokesperson for UPMC Children's, declined to comment on any cases at the hospital.

James Hill of Lakeville, Minn., said his son, Quinton, suffered typical cold symptoms at the start of one school week in September.

Kristen Ehresmann, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control at the Minnesota Department of Health, told Healthline, "it's very concerning".

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Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of infectious disease and immunology at Wolfson, said in a statement that the child, who was not identified, was admitted to the hospital with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). Doctors may also recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness.

Another 65 cases are being investigated.

Verma, of Children's Healthcare, said unfortunately there is no cure for acute flaccid myelitis, but he said there are ways to manage the symptoms, and he added that rehabilitation can improve function and quality of life. But, occasionally, a child will progress to having AFM.

Faircloth said she wants other parents to be aware. But that bug - enterovirus D68 - could not be definitively linked to the illnesses. No one knows what causes AFM, although a virus or viruses are suspected.

The spikes were significantly higher in 2014, 2016 and 2018-to-date than in 2015 or 2017.

"This is truly a mystery disease", Messonnier told CBS News.

People can protect themselves from contracting AFM using methods similar to preventing getting the flu, Ellerin said. "We actually don't know what's causing this increase", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, of the CDC.

Doctors diagnose AFM based on a combination of the patient's symptoms and an MRI scan.

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