Minnesota Children Diagnosed With ‘Polio-like’ Paralyzing Illness

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Since mid-September, six cases of the condition, acute flaccid myelitis, in children under 10 years old have been reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, the agency said.

Six children in Minnesota have been diagnosed with a rare "polio-like" disease since September, baffling health officials.

"It is important to know that even though this is a rare condition and is being reported as a mystery illness, we really do understand much more about the causes of this disease", he said. "It's incredibly heartbreaking to see this".

The Minnesota Health Department, as well as the CDC will continue to collect information an evaluate the cases. Then, cases spiked again to 149 in 2016.

It's called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM, and it has left health officials puzzled.

Symptoms often include a sudden onset of muscle weakness in the arms or legs and a loss of muscle tone and reflexes, sometimes following a respiratory illness.

"What we do know is that AFM can be caused by lots of different things, and one of those things is a viral infection", Dr. Meade said.

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The case of Orville Young, 4, was among the first in Minnesota to be reported.

Despite the increase, the condition is still considered very rare, occurring in fewer than one in a million people in the USA each year.

The reported IL cases are preliminary diagnoses and only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control can confirm the diagnosis, according to Arnold. The CDC says little is known about what causes the disease. However, it recommends practicing disease prevention measures, including staying up-to-date on vaccines and protecting yourself from mosquito bites. And at the end of 2104, total numbers of people affected from AFM were 120 in 34 states. In 2014, a large outbreak coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness causes by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), but intensive investigations have not consistently found a specific pathogen in spinal fluid samples. He added that the CDC is working hard on national and worldwide fronts to look for a common cause.

After several tests, doctors were only able to find a diagnosis after a second MRI, finding abnormality throughout his entire spinal cord.

While cases have been on the rise since 2014, AFM still affects a small population - less than one in a million people in the United States annually.

Environmental toxins and genetic disorders are also potentially involved in the development of the disease.