Cases of rare polio-like illness affecting children reported in 16 states

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According to our Dallas sister station WFAA, three children in North Texas have also been confirmed to have AFM. But shortly thereafter, unusual and frightening symptoms, such as limb weakness, face drooping and difficulty talking or swallowing, set in.

AFM is a polio-like illness that affects a person's nervous system, including the spinal cord.

Since then, more than 350 cases of the illness have been reported in the USA over a four-year period. As limbs become weak, a patient might lose the ability to use their arms or legs.

Over the past year, almost 40 cases of a polio-like sickness have been diagnosed across the country - two of which were reported right next door to Penn at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The condition was first described in 2014 and doctors assumed a virus was to blame, but they didn't know which one. Only one case has been confirmed this year, but officials are still investigating the latest possible cases.

The CDC says that both the cause and long-term effects of the disease remain unknown.

She said viruses that can lead to AFM are transmissible between people.

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Dr. Elizabeth Meade, chief of pediatrics at Swedish Pediatrics, says AFM is more common in kids and is especially associated with viruses. There, after more tests, she was diagnosed with a probable case of AFM.

"We want to be better to better understand the epidemiology of the disease".

In previous years, cases of AFM in Colorado and elsewhere have been positive for a different enterovirus, EV-D68. Many people compare the disease to polio because it can cause problems that are very similar to the poliovirus.

While there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, you can help protect yourself from some of its known causes by: washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick people, and cleaning surfaces with a disinfectant, especially those that a sick person has touched.

The CDC says there have been a total of 362 cases nationally between August 2014 and August 2018, with 38 confirmed cases so far this year.

Despite these frightening cases of AFM, it's important to remember that the condition continues to be rare. AFM can cause a range of types and severity of symptoms, but the commonality among them is a loss of strength or movement in one or more arms or legs. Patients may also experience facial drooping as well as difficulty with swallowing and moving the eyes.

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