CDC Confirms Rare Polio-Like Virus Acute Flaccid Myelitis in 22 States

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts", she said, "we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness".

The average age of patients with confirmed cases of AFM is 4 years old, according to the CDC.

Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is rare, but the Centers for Disease Control said it has become more common recently.

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.

Despite its similarity to polio, none of the AFM patients has tested positive for the poliovirus, Messonnier said. "What we do is a medication called immunoglobulins, and that's to decrease the inflammation that happens in the nerves and in the spinal cord".

"This remains a rare syndrome, but the similarities to poliomyelitis, polio-like illness, are concerning and bear close monitoring", Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, told ABC News in an interview. So far this year, there have been 62 confirmed cases in 22 states.

Officials have confirmed there is a possible case of acute flaccid myelitis, an illness similar to polio, in Douglas County. The CDC doesn't know what caused the spikes.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say it had referred a case from this summer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The states reporting confirmed cases are Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

Physicians first began noticing an increase in AFM patients in 2014, with roughly 120 confirmed cases. CDC officials say they haven't found the cause.

"As a parent myself, I understand what it is like to be scared for your child".

Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare".

"We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care", Messonnier said, noting how most have a "sudden onset of weakness".

It's important for parents to know the symptoms so they can get their child immediate medical care and help doctors get a handle on the disease. It could be potentially deadly if the diaphragm is paralyzed because the child would be unable to breathe.

The CDC referred calls to individual state health departments. It takes quite a bit of time to even diagnose.

  • Delores Daniels