There have reports of 127 cases of a rare polio-like condition affecting children, the Centers for Disease Control said. Disease investigators believe this was linked to an outbreak of a respiratory illness in children that was caused by a virus known as enterovirus D 68 (EVD68).
"We understand that people, particularly parents, are concerned about AFM", said Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Another kind of virus is suspected, but it's been found in only some of the cases.
Most of these AMF cases continue to occur in children. Cases have been reported from the Twin Cities, central Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota.
"There's only, like, one case in a million", said Dr. Diana Flint, a family physician at SSM Dean Clinic in Sun Prairie.
She has never personally encountered a case of AFM, a disease characterized by spinal inflammation.
"It's gonna spread quickly and if they don't know what's wrong, how are they gonna fix it?"
It is given by a shot in the arm or leg, depending on the person's age.
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If you fear your child has any of these symptoms, you are urged to seek medical attention immediately. It is caused by the poliovirus. Messonnier said West Nile virus, which had been listed as a possible cause on CDC's website, is not causing the illnesses.
Now that the CDC is seeing an increase in cases since AFM popped up in 2014, Flint wants parents to be aware of the symptoms, which start out similar to those of the cold or flu for about a week, and then include muscle weakness, difficulty walking, balance problems and facial drooping.
The CDC has tested many different specimens from AFM patients for a wide range of pathogens. But so far, no pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.
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There is no specific treatment for AFM, but neurologists who specialize in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses may recommend certain interventions, such as physical or occupational therapy, on a case-by-case basis.
AFM may be rare, but Flint said it's serious.
Compiled from The Associated Press and The Minnesota Department of Health.