Senators want investigation into polio-like sickness that has struck seven children

Stock image of a sick child

The Minnesota Department of Health recently announced six AFM cases have been classified in its state and were reported in children under 10 years old, living in the Twin Cities, central Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that two Chicago-area children are being treated at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago for the illness - including 2-year-old Julia Payne, who has been fighting the illness for almost a month.

According to her parents, 2-year-old Julia Payne's symptoms at first resembled those of a common cold.

Between August 2014 and August 2018, the CDC received information on a total of 362 confirmed cases of AFM nationwide.

Currently, little is known about how AMF develops and there are no specific treatments.

Ehresman says it's unknown what causes A-F-M but people should observe good hygiene and be sure vaccinations are up-to-date.

The Minnesota state health department said all six cases occurred after mid-September, and all six kids have been hospitalized.

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In Minnesota, health officials have fielded calls from the public and doctors about how to prevent the onset, Griffith said.

The Centers for Disease and Control is investigating a mysterious polio-like disorder that is on the rise across the nation. It affects a person's nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Possible causes may include viruses, such as the poliovirus, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses, as well as environmental toxins or genetic factors.

AFM mainly affects children, for reasons which remain unclear. The initial symptoms of AFM in children include facial drooping, limb weakness and trouble in talking and swallowing. Some people may be unable to urinate, and, in severe cases, a person can suffer respiratory failure and need to be put on a ventilator.

There is no treatment for this disease.

The condition is rare, and the state typically sees less than one diagnosis per year. "It nearly has to run its course and then you see where it settles out", he adds. A 2016 report found there were 120 cases recorded across 34 states from August through December 2014.

However, oftentimes, even with extensive lab tests, the cause of a patient's AFM is not identified. It may also be helpful to wash hands often with soap and water, the agency says.

Individuals diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) experience different issues due to largely gray matter involvement during recovery than traditional transverse myelitis with spastic paralysis. "This is a very rare condition", he stresses.

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