6 Children in Minnesota Have Been Diagnosed With a Rare ‘Polio-Like’ Illness Since Mid-September

Reuters Studio

A rare neurological condition has struck children in Minnesota and officials are unsure of the cause. Since mid-September, six children have been diagnosed and hospitalized with an illness that has symptoms similar to polio.

Called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, the condition can cause symptoms such as stiff neck, paralysis, muscle weakness, facial drooping, and difficulty with talking or swallowing. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, they average only one case or less per year, and are investigating these incidents that have occurred throughout the state.

Although it is still considered a “mystery illness”, health experts believe that AFM can be linked to viral infections that leave lingering traces in the system. Since AFM primarily affects the spinal cord, detection can be difficult without proper testing. The condition is also fatal.

Diagnosis typically involves a MRI scan and/or testing of the cerebral spinal fluid. Once diagnosed, there is no cure. The CDC has recorded over 360 cases of AFM between August 2014 and August 2018 but has found no consistent pathogenic cause across the board.

What is known is that the illness mostly impacts young children, and all the affected children in Minnesota are under age 10.

You can hear from one of the Minnesota families by clicking on the video below and you’ll also learn what physicians have to say about AFM and the current outbreak.

Have you ever heard about AFM? Do you live in an area where this is occurring? Are you concerned about it spreading?