Six Minnesota children diagnosed with rare polio-like disease

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Symptoms of AFM are comparable to polio, including numbness of the limbs, facial drooping and slurred speech.

Health investigators are trying to figure out how some Minnesota children contracted a rare illness with polio-like symptoms.

The disease is known to hit the nervous system by traveling through the spinal cord.

Griffith said the cases usually come to light when parents notice acute muscle weakness or paralysis in their child and bring them to a health provider.

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"What we don't know is why these common cold symptoms, why in some individuals does it turn into AFM that's where the mystery lies", said Dr. Sinner.

On Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment revealed that it had seen 14 cases of AFM this year in wake of an outbreak of viral infections.

Since the CDC began tracking AFM cases four years ago, at least 362 cases have been logged nationwide, according to the CDC's website.

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.

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"In very rare cases, it is possible that the process in the body that triggers AFM may also trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death", according to the CDC. It can also be caused by poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses, mosquito-borne viruses (such as West Nile virus or Zika virus) and possibly by non-infectious conditions. Still, the condition is extremely rare, with the CDC estimating that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year.

"This includes cases of meningitis, encephalitis, and acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) as well as children experiencing myoclonus (abnormal muscle jerking) and ataxia (loss of balance)". Acute flaccid myelitis is tricky to diagnose and may require tests of spinal fluid, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Up through September of this year, 38 cases of AFM have been confirmed in 16 states, according to the CDC, and 362 people have contracted AFM since August 2014.

"Particularly after you go to the bathroom and before you are eating or touching your face", Dr. Robinette says. Though the AFM cases show a similar seasonality as polio, Osterholm said a difference in the recent AFM pattern is that most severe polio cases were in adults. Until then, doctors are treating the cases as if they are AFM.

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However, 11 of the Colorado cases of AFM have tested positive for EV A71, a rare type of enterovirus not usually seen in the US but instead in Asia and other parts of the world, according to Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the Colorado state epidemiologist.

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