'Polio like' illness spreads to 22 states

Most States Facing Confirmed Or Possible Cases Of Polio Like Illness

Most States Facing Confirmed Or Possible Cases Of Polio Like Illness

More than 90 percent of the cases involved children 18 or younger, with an average age of just 4 years old.

Maryland health officials said their first case was reported to them September 21. CDC officials added that while they have not seen any geographical clustering, they have seen seasonal clustering, with most cases occurring in the late summer and fall, dating back to when the CDC first noticed an uptick in the illness in 2014.

"We have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these AFM cases", she said.

A polio-like illness that can cause paralysis in children is now here in the Carolinas.

The agency has seen an increase in cases since August 2014.

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CDC officials say they haven't found the cause. Another spike came in 2016. But the data reported Tuesday represents "a substantially larger number than in previous months this year", Messonnier said.

"Nobody really knows treatment protocols, they don't know prognosis, and they can't really give parents an answer as to where this is coming from", she said. Neurological conditions like it have a variety of causes, such as viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders.

The agency is investigating 127 cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), according to Reuters on October 17. In 2016, there were 149 cases.

CNN reached out to several health departments across the country, including IL, which reported 10 cases of AFM. The CDC estimates it affects only 1 out of 1 million people in the United States.

"It affects the nervous system, specifically the area of spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak". Officials said some patients diagnosed with AFM recover quickly, while others need ongoing care.

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Because the symptoms are similar, AFM is often confused with polio, a crippling and potentially fatal disease that is caused by a virus.

Health officials Arkansas and Oklahoma say a rare illness that's being compared to polio may have reached the states as it spreads across the U.S.

CNN did not have any reported cases in Missouri but our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at least one child had sought treatment at St. Louis Children's Hospital. None have tested positive for poliovirus. But so far, no pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid.

The CDC encourages people to prevent the disease by staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and protecting against mosquito bites. It's also important to note that the number of known or suspected cases is small, so the odds of contracting the illness are extremely low.

For example, the CDC doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or why some are at higher risk, she said. "So we're very lucky that he had (physical therapy) through early intervention".

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