Spike reported in cases of baffling paralysis in children in 22 states

CDC There have been 386 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis in the US since 2014.

Wednesday (Oct. 17), the CDC said there were 62 confirmed cases of AFM in the United States.

Possible causes being considered include viruses that affect the digestive system called enteroviruses, and possibly strains of rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, she said.

Viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders are among the suspected causes of the illness, which often begins with fever, respiratory issues and muscle weakness. Officials have been unable to determine why the spikes are coming in waves.

The agency also said it will post case count updates on its website every week now, a change from the monthly updates it had been giving. Limb paralysis caused by the illness can worsen quickly, so it's also important that individuals experiencing these symptoms receive prompt medical attention. Although the cause remains a mystery in the majority of cases, the 2014 jump coincided with "a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among people caused by enterovirus D68", though it wasn't found in all patients, according to the CDC.

Since the condition was first recognized by CDC in 2014, the agency has confirmed 362 cases.

The cases this year seem to be spread across much of the country, as were the earlier two waves. But the data reported Tuesday represents "a substantially larger number than in previous months this year", Messonnier said.

She said it was important for parents and clinicians to remember that this is a rare condition, affecting less than 1 in 1 million people under 18. There was one death of a child who had AFM, in 2017, said Messonnier.

This disease is like a "hit-and-run", Gupta said, and "you don't have evidence of the virus but you do have evidence of the aftermath so it's hard to piece together".

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM", Messonnier said during a teleconference for reporters. Those officials are probing another 65 illnesses in those states.

"Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases". But so far, no pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.

She recommended that parents take routine protections against viral infections, such as keeping up to date on immunizations, washing hands, and avoiding mosquito bites.

States are not required to provide this information to the CDC but have been voluntarily reporting their data. Of those, 30 states said they had cases that were confirmed, suspected or being investigated - including 15 states that said they had confirmed cases in 2018.

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