Five children in Washington state have been hospitalized for the sudden onset of paralysis of one or more of their limbs, Washington State Department of Health officials announced Wednesday.
Health department officials are working with experts to confirm whether the children have acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).
All five of the infants and children are younger than 6 years old.
AFM is a rare condition that affects the nervous system, especially the spinal cord, health officials said.
On Oct. 8, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported an uptick in the illness impacting children.
It is raising serious red flags with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.
The rare disease is similar to polio.
The five young children being treated in Washington state reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM.
Health officials said the children are residents of King County, Pierce County, Lewis County and Snohomish County.
In 2016, there were nine cases of AFM in Washington state, health officials said. In 2017, there were three cases, and since the beginning of 2018, there has been one case in the state.
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“Symptoms (of AFM) typically include sudden weakness in one or more arms or legs, along with loss of muscle tone and decreased or absent reflexes,” health officials said. “AFM can cause a range of types and severity of symptoms, but the commonality among them is a loss of strength or movement in one or more arms or legs. 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 (new Washington state) cases are AFM.”
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