Potential causes can be viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said. Since then, more than 350 cases of the illness have been reported in the US over a four-year period.
With hope, further investigation will address this unnerving uptick in AFM cases, preventing even more little ones from suffering around the country.
Since Sept. 20, six children under the age of 10 have been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a serious nervous system condition that is believed to affect the spinal cord and gray matter, causing muscle weakness, which can lead to paralysis, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. 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.
In the past, Minnesota may only see one case in a year.
"Of the AFM cases, 11 tested positive for enterovirus A71, one tested positive for enterovirus D68, and two tested negative for enteroviruses", the department said in an online statement Tuesday. Three cases were reported in 2017, and one other case was reported in Washington since the beginning of 2018.
The Washington State Department of Health is working with Centers for Disease Control experts to determine if the cases are acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).
Enterovirus outbreaks typically happen in the summer and early fall - so "this is the time of year that we expect to be seeing" enterovirus cases, she said.
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The state health department is working with the CDC to determine if these are indeed cases of AFM.
"The CDC has acknowledged that 362 cases of AFM have been reported since 2014, indicating an increasing infection rate", Klobuchar wrote in the letter.
There is no treatment other than managing each patient's symptoms.
"There's a sudden onset of weakness in the arm, leg, face, or the muscles that help us swallow and that we use to speak", says Dr. Amaran Moodley from the Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa.
Six is the highest number of cases Minnesota has ever seen.
Doctors are encouraging people to practice what are called "general prevention strategies" - including washing your hands with soap and water, getting vaccinated and preventing mosquito bites. After the 120 cases in 2014, there were 22 in 2015, 149 in 2016, and 33 previous year, according to the agency.