Maryland Health Officials Confirm 5 Possible Cases Of Polio-Like Illness

USA health officials on Tuesday reported a jump in cases of a rare paralyzing illness in children, and said it seems to be following an every-other-year pattern.

CNN reported that 30 states either have cases confirmed, suspected or under investigation.

Across the USA there were 38 confirmed cases in 16 states this year through September 30, according to the CDC.

Among the concerns the CDC has are that the agency does not know the cause of AFM, why there has been an increase in cases since 2014, or the long-term effects of the illness. This year's numbers are similar to 2016 and 2014. This year is one of them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 62 cases of the rare polio-like neurological condition acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM, so far this year in the U.S. More than 90 percent of the cases involved children 18 or younger, with an average age of just 4 years old. It affects mostly children.

"Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases", Messonnier said.

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"We're actually looking at everything".

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said. "This is a mystery so far, and we haven't solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly".

AFM affects a person's nervous system, according to the CDC website, mainly in the spinal cord, and can present polio-like symptoms, including weakness and pain in the arms and legs. In particular, the condition can cause weakness in the arms and legs along with loss of muscle tone and problems with reflexes. And though enteroviruses have been detected in some paralysis cases, it hasn't been found in others, CDC officials say.

Its symptoms are likened to those caused by polio, which was eradicated in the US thanks to the polio vaccine.

Medical experts aren't sure what causes AFM, but it can occur as a result of a variety of viral illnesses including enteroviruses, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses. No one finding can explain all the cases, she said.

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM", Messonnier said during a teleconference for reporters. Since the phenomenon began in 2014, she said, the rate of infections has been less than one case per 1 million children in the country.

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