On Monday, news broke that six children in Minnesota have been infected with the rare disease that causes lowered mobility or paralysis in the arms and legs.
Since polio can sometimes lead to AFM, you can protect yourself and your children by getting vaccinated.
Most affected by AFM will experience a sudden onset of weakness or paralysis in a limb, but some may also experience drooping face and eye muscles, difficulty swallowing or difficulty moving the eyes, according to the CDC. "It's incredibly heartbreaking to see this". The disease was most prevalent in 2014 when 120 cases, most in Colorado and California, were reported. CDC has been actively investigating these AFM cases, and we continue to receive information about suspected AFM cases. Disease investigators believe this was linked to an outbreak of a respiratory illness in children that was caused by a virus known as enterovirus D68 (EVD68).
Other symptoms include neck weakness, drooping eyelids and slurred speech, according to the state department. Possible causes may include viruses, such as the poliovirus, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses, as well as environmental toxins or genetic factors.
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According to a statement released by the agency, the state normally sees about one case of AFM per year, though there was a nationwide spike in 2014 following an outbreak of an enterovirus called EV-68.
"It is now hard to interpret trends of the AFM data", the CDC said. The Minnesota cases have been diagnosed since September 20, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, which says officials are working "aggressively" with health care providers to try to gather more information about the cases.
The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure that can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak.
The CDC says it's important to practice disease prevention steps: staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and preventing mosquito bites. A doctor can also do an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to look at a patient's brain and spinal cord, do lab tests on the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the brain and spinal cord) and may check nerve conduction (impulse sent along a nerve fiber) and response.
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