Multiple Children Diagnosed With Rare Polio-Like Disease in Minnesota

Six children have been left partially paralyzed after falling ill to acute flaccid myelitis.
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ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Oct 2018
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Photo: iStock

Six children in Minnesota have been diagnosed with a rare polio-like disease since mid-September, CNN reports.

The illness is known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) and affects the body’s nervous system, particularly the spinal cord, and can cause paralysis. There is currently no vaccine for AFM, and treatments focus on alleviating its symptoms.

Typically affecting children, all cases of AFM in Minnesota involve kids under the age of 10. On average, the state sees less than one case a year, according to the Department of Health.

The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but it can be developed from a viral infection. Symptoms include weak limbs, facial drooping and difficulty swallowing or talking. If you or your child notice any of these signs, seek medical care as soon as possible.

Cases of AFM first spiked in the US in 2014. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there have been 362 cases of AFM in the country.

Poliovirus and West Nile virus may sometimes lead to AFM. The CDC says you can protect yourself and your children from poliovirus by getting vaccinated and using mosquito repellent sprays. And while it hasn’t been proven to prevent AFM, washing your hands often with soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to other people.

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