Seventh child in Minnesota contracts paralyzing illness

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Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 62 cases this year and a total of 386 since 2014.

Lacking an established cause, health officials confirm cases through a review of brain scans and symptoms. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness.

"We understand that people particularly parents are concerned", Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a here media briefing on Tuesday.

"Although all cases are tested to see if it is tied to the polio virus and all have been negative, polio is a known cause of AFM", Nesemeier said.

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"Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause", Messonnier said, dispelling reports that AFM was possibly linked to polio.

Beginning in the summer and fall of 2014, an apparent increase in reports of AFM occurred in the United States. Only one death has been reported, which involved an AFM illness reported in 2017. Officials say this is not considered a public health threat, so they will not release which part of the state the case was confirmed in, or any other details. Nesemeier says many do recover, while some can be left with a disability.

"AFM is a rare, but serious condition that affects the nervous system". Neurological conditions like it have a variety of causes, such as viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders. Maryland's first case was reported September 21. "Children can also have trouble swallowing, trouble with their speech, facial droop, trouble with their eye muscles". Sixty-two cases are confirmed. "We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms or legs".

Health officials urge parents to be vigilant, as there's a lot unknown about the syndrome and what causes it. The CDC says an outbreak in 2014 seemed to coincide with an outbreak of enterovirus D68, however the virus wasn't found in every AFM patient. Officials will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases. None of the USA patients tested positive for polio, a crippling and often deadly disease which was eliminated in this country thanks to the polio vaccine.

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"So it is primarily a disease of the children", she said.

For example, the CDC doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or why some are at higher risk, she said.

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To help prevent the illness' spread, the CDC advises proper hand washing, staying up to date on vaccines and using mosquito repellent to avoid bites. "So we're very lucky that he had (physical therapy) through early intervention".

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Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare". Some children paralyzed by AFM have eventually regained their ability to walk, but need time.

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