Five kids hospitalized with rare sudden limb paralysis

Acute flaccid myelitis is so rare that less than one in a million will get it, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Fernando Acosta Jr., a neurologist at Cook Children's, said there is no cure or treatment at this time.

The cases involve infants and children under the age of six who all reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM.

There are several ways people can contract AFM, including exposure to toxins in the air, genetic factors or through viruses such as poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and Saint Louis encephalitis virus, according to the agency.

One case was reported earlier this year.

"At this point there isn't evidence that would point to a single source of illness among these cases", said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state infectious disease epidemiologist at the Department of Health.

How many children have been diagnosed with AFM? . However, there has been a spike in cases since 2014 and most of those infected have been children.

State health officials are working with the care providers to obtain the samples and information to send to CDC for testing and confirmation of the diagnoses.

Symptoms can include sudden limb weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial and eyelid drooping, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, swallowing difficulty or slurred speech, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cause of AFM, and the reason for the rise in cases starting in 2014, is not known.

Since 2015, when IL began monitoring reports of AFM in the state, four confirmed cases have been identified. There isn't a vaccine that could prevent AFM and there isn't a vaccine that causes the condition, medical experts said.

"What we don't know is why these common cold symptoms, why in some individuals does it turn into AFM that's where the mystery lies", said Dr. Sinner.

The condition is still very rare, occurring in fewer than one in a million people in the USA each year, the CDC says.

Though the CDC says it's not necessarily proven to guard against AFM, they recommend frequent hand-washing with soap and water.

In 2017, 33 cases were reported in 16 states.

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