MDH: 7th Minnesota case of AFM 'under review' by CDC

In an email Tuesday, Maryland Department of Health spokeswoman Brittany Fowler said the CDC will "make a determination about the status of the cases" in Maryland "based on clinical and laboratory information".

There is no specific treatment for the disorder, and long-term outcomes are unknown.

The rare AFM condition mostly presents in children but so far a cause or consistent patient pathogen has alluded doctors.

She said the CDC and research partners are casting a wide net trying to figure out what is causing the rise in cases, suggesting scientists have been looking at a variety of viruses and even environmental toxins in their search.

The number of confirmed cases reported to date is similar to levels reported in the fall of 2014 and 2016. Only one death has been reported, which involved an AFM illness reported in 2017. Officials have been unable to determine why the spikes are coming in waves.

"We understand that people, particularly parents, are concerned about AFM", she said.

"We have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these AFM cases", she said. "There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I'm frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness".

MA has seen a total of 16 confirmed cases in children since 2014, plus one probable case in an adult.

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The outlook for patients with AFM can vary from a quick recovery to ongoing paralysis, Messonnier said.

Officials began tracking the disease in 2014 when they received reports of 120 cases nationwide.

"We know this can be frightening for parents", Messonnier said.

"This is a pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier said.

The disease is extremely rare, with the CDC estimating that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year.

"As a parent myself I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", Messonnier said. We actually don't know what is causing this increase. "We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms and legs". Viruses that can cause the disease include poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses and West Nile virus.

But the agency doesn't know who may be at higher risk nor why they may be at higher risk.

Acute flaccid myelitis affects the spinal cord and can cause partial paralysis. Officials would not say what states they lived in, but cases have been reported in New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, and Washington. In the CDC's health warning the organisation said at least 65 other patients are being assessed after they displayed symptoms of the malady.

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