From August 2014 through August 2018, CDC has received information on a total of 362 cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) across the USA; most of the cases continue to occur in children. Disease investigators believe this was linked to an outbreak of a respiratory illness in children that was caused by a virus known as enterovirus D68 (EVD68). Polio is notorious for causing neurological complications, including near complete paralysis but also limb weakness.
Minnesota saw three AFM cases that year. The severe form the disease can cause neurologic symptoms, including encephalitis and AFM.
"A lot of these people do require prolonged amounts of physical therapy to get their strength back up", says Cleveland Clinic pediatric infectious disease expert Dr.
AFM affects less than one in a million children. While the CDC says they do not know the cause of most cases of AFM, they do know that Poliovirus and West Nile virus can sometimes lead to AFM.
A study of children diagnosed with AFM in Colorado in 2014 found that majority were better one year later, although most also had residual weakness in their arms and legs. "This is a very rare condition", he stresses.
EV-A71 is a common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease, an uncomfortable and highly contagious childhood illness marked by blisters or spots on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, in the mouth and elsewhere.
State medical officials released a statement on the outbreak last week so that doctors can be on the lookout for more cases.
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.
"But we do know that over time, with rehabilitation therapies, numerous children can regain function".
Now there is no treatment for AFM, and the exact cause is unknown.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help one of the patients, 7-year-old Quinton Hill.
After several tests, doctors were only able to find a diagnosis after a second MRI, finding abnormality throughout his entire spinal cord. Staying up to date on recommended immunizations is also important to avoiding vaccine-preventable illnesses, the health department said.