Cases of rare, polio-like illness confirmed in Ohio, Pennsylvania

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A study published last yearfound six of eight children in Colorado with acute flaccid myelitis still struggled with motor skills one year after their diagnosis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it has received reports of 127 suspected cases of a polio-like condition called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM.

In some cases patients recover from the paralysis, but in others it continues. The disease is marked by a sudden onset of weakness and loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs caused by an attack on the nervous system and spinal cord. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said symptoms include arm/leg weakness, facial drooping, difficulty moving the eyes and trouble swallowing.

History: The CDC has no idea why there has been a spike in cases, though there have been similar spikes in 2014 and 2016, according to Fox News. Authorities say they are still awaiting confirmed lab results from the CDC.

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Symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness.

Researchers are looking into a number of possible causes from viruses to genetic disorders to environmental toxins. Another 149 were reported in 2016. There was one death of a child who had AFM, in 2017, said Messonnier. Officials said some patients diagnosed with AFM recover quickly, while others need ongoing care. In the CDC's health warning the organisation said at least 65 other patients are being assessed after they displayed symptoms of the malady.

While the virus has similarities with polio, Messonnier stressed that polio was not the cause of the disease.

"CDC has been actively investigating AFM, testing specimens and monitoring disease since 2014, when we first saw an increase in cases", Messonnier said.

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The number is almost double the amount observed in 2017, when 33 AFM cases were found in the US. So far this year, cases have been confirmed in 22 states, based on findings from MRI studies and the cluster of symptoms a child has.

The cause of most of the AFM incidents is unknown, according to the CDC, as are the long-term effects. CDC experts say the overall rate of AFM is about one in a one million. Regaining the ability to walk after AFM infection may take a lot of physical therapy, Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, tells The Washington Post. There have been cases each year since, but the numbers have been higher on alternate years.

CDC Since August 2014, the CDC has seen 386 confirmed cases of AFM in the U.S.

Messonnier did not address enterovirus D68 directly during the news conference and said the CDC has not yet had time to fully analyze the cases from this summer and fall.

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