CDC Warns Of Polio-Like Mystery Illness That's Paralyzing Kids

Most States Facing Confirmed Or Possible Cases Of Polio Like Illness

States reporting suspected cases or cases under investigation are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Washington.

A rare polio-like disease is affecting children across the country and St. Louis has its first reported case of acute flaccid myelitis. Those officials are probing another 65 illnesses in those states.

No known cases have been reported in Virginia or the District this year, but there were three confirmed cases in Virginia in 2016, health department officials said.

CNN did not have any reported cases in Missouri but our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at least one child had sought treatment at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, updated the media and public via a conference call on Tuesday.

So far, viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders are all possible causes for the spike.

"Despite extensive laboratory testing, we have not determined what pathogen or immune response caused the arm or leg weakness and paralysis in most patients", she said.

"AFM is a rare, but serious condition that affects the nervous system". Some also experience facial droop, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, or slurred speech. Several cases have been linked to enteroviruses or other germs, but officials have not been able to find a cause for the majority of the cases.

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The disease has left some children with paralyzed limbs.

While AFM is incredibly rare, the current rate is less than one case for every 1 million Americans, Messonnier urged parents and health care providers to be on the lookout for symptoms. There have now been a total of 386 confirmed cases since 2014.

Some patients diagnosed with AFM were found to have enterovirus D68, a cousin of poliovirus, in their systems.

"You see your child, who likes to run and play", she said.

It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said. The CDC says there are preventative measures people can take to reduce the risk of infections that could to AFM.

To help prevent the illness' spread, the CDC advises proper hand washing, staying up to date on vaccines and using mosquito repellent to avoid bites.

How can AFM be treated?

CDC is not releasing a list of the 22 states with confirmed and suspected cases because of privacy issues. The state did not provide additional details.

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