Sixteen children have been diagnosed with the illness in MA since 2014, and last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 62 cases in 22 states this year.
Dr. Jeremy Friedman, pediatrician-in-chief at the Hospital for Sick Children, wouldn't give an exact number, but said doctors at the Toronto hospital have seen less than 20 cases of limb-based paralysis since the beginning of September - with about a dozen of them confirmed as acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.
State health officials say four cases of a rare, mysterious illness that can paralyze children have been confirmed in OH amid a jump in such cases nationally.
The CDC said it has been working closely with local and state health departments and hospitals to gather information about patients under investigation with the goal of confirming more cases faster.
But the real problem (other than the fact that the majority of those affected by AFM have been children) is figuring out what's causing this rare condition.
Even with an increase in cases since 2014, AFM remains a very rare condition.
"The way that it presents in children is with a pretty sudden weakness or paralysis of one or more of their limbs", he said Monday. Symptoms most often include a sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes.
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Poliovirus and West Nile virus may sometimes lead to AFM. Another cause could be a type of enterovirus called EV D68, Ellerin suggests. The most severe symptom is respiratory failure. "What the physician will do is rule out other causes rule out other things that might be causing it".
AFM cases on the rise in the U.S. Story continues below video.
Viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders may play a role, CDC noted.
All four of her children had come down with a cold at the same time, but young Abigail's condition continued to worsen despite her mother's best efforts to keep her kids healthy. "That's something that we're still really learning about", Jones said.
To date, however, according to the CDC, no pathogen or germ has been consistently detected in a patient's spinal fluid that indicates the cause of AFM.
Messonnier said parents (and kids) need to take preventative steps, such as washing their hands (the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections), using insect repellent and staying current on all immunizations, to help fight the virus causing AFM.