'Polio-like' illness cases flaring up: Should you be concerned?

Quinton Hill and his parents

Quinton Hill and his parents

The reported IL cases are preliminary diagnoses and only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control can confirm the diagnosis, according to Arnold.

Two-year-old Julia Payne is one of two children being treated for AFM in Chicago.

While there is no cure for the virus, neurologists can recommend treatments.

For example, in Minnesota, cases of AFM were generally stagnant at about one case per year, but now six children have been confirmed to have AFM in 2018 alone.

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The rare, poorly understood, polio-like illness is thought to attack the body's nervous system - specifically, the spinal cord - and can cause paralysis.

Cases of a rare polio-like illness that are turning up across the country are also appearing here in North Texas.

"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.

The illness causes a weakening of the nerves and resembles polio. "We're working closely with medical providers and public health agencies".

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"Most of the cases [of AFM] that CDC has learned about have been in children", the CDC writes on its website. The CDC reviews medical information on all reported clinical cases to classify cases as AFM. A 2-year-old girl was recently diagnosed in the Chicago area, and UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh confirmed that three children are now being treated for AFM at their facility.

Other AFM symptoms may include: facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, or difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech. A few require ventilators to breathe, NBC News reported. The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found. CDC specialists will make the final determination if these cases are AFM.

Doctors now don't know a lot about how AFM spreads.

So far this year, the CDC says there have been 38 confirmed cases of AFM across 16 states. Three cases were reported in 2017, and one other case was reported in Washington since the beginning of 2018. Most said parents can do is encouraging kids to wash their hands, teaching them to cover their mouths with their elbow when they cough or sneeze, and keep them home if they are sick.

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