Health Care

Case Of Polio-Like Illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis Confirmed In Mass.

Some who contract AFM will feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes.

Health experts say the disease can lead to paralysis and even death, but no deaths have been reported so far this year.

One child has died of the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. The CDC doesn't know what caused the spikes.

The CDC said the condition isn't new, "but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new". "And certainly after three cycles of this, when we've looked through all the normal agents, we're looking beyond that to see if there are things beyond normal infectious diseases that could cause this", said Messonnier.

Five children in Maryland have contracted symptoms of a virus similar to polio this fall, according to the state health department.

AFM may be caused by other viruses, including enterovirus, environmental toxins and a condition in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys tissue that it mistakes for foreign material, Messonnier said: "This is a mystery so far, and we haven't solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly". Despite extensive laboratory and other testing, CDC has been unable to find the cause for the majority of the cases.

Federal health officials released the updated numbers on Tuesday, and said they still had no idea what was causing the spike in AFM cases or why kids were getting it in the first place.

About 120 confirmed cases were reported in 2014.

Maryland health officials said their first case was reported to them September 21. "As a parent myself, I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", she said.

This year, five children in Maryland have come down with AFM symptoms, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

Health officials call the condition acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

She said that CDC has tested every stool specimen from AFM patients. But Messonnier said that, in general, parents can help protect their children from diseases by washing their hands, making sure their children are up to date with vaccinations and applying insect repellent to protect against mosquito bites, which can spread viruses.

CNN has reported that this year, more than half of all US states have had confirmed or possible cases, including North and SC.

On Monday, CNN reached out to health departments in every state and received responses from 48 states plus the District of Columbia.

States are not required to provide this information to the CDC but have been voluntarily reporting their data.

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