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They have been reported in 16 states. The Minnesota Department of Health identified the illness as acute flaccid myelitis, and said it was first reported on September 20.

However, it can be hard to detect how patients actually get AFM. "That makes it seem like in 2018 it could come back". The number of AFM cases seems to spike every other year, with 149 reported in 2016, 22 reported in 2015, and 120 in 2014.

While aspects of the condition are puzzling, Messacar says it's no mystery disease.

While AFM resembles polio, there is no vaccine for this mysterious disease.

The children affected suffer single or multi-limb weakness. Polio once caused regular epidemics until vaccination wiped it out across most of the world.

Most people will instead experience things like a cold, a rash, diarrhea or hand, foot and mouth disease, she explained.

Herlihy noted it's "quite rare" to suffer neurological complications like AFM, encephalitis and meningitis from enteroviruses.

"We know that enteroviruses, especially EV-A71, have been associated with acute flaccid myelitis", Herlihy told NBC News.

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Initial symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs.

However, 11 of the Colorado cases of AFM have tested positive for EV A71, a rare type of enterovirus not usually seen in the US but instead in Asia and other parts of the world, according to Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the Colorado state epidemiologist. The CDC also notes that the condition mostly affects children. You can also protect yourself from mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile virus-another known cause of AFM.

At least six children under age 10 are facing paralysis, long-term health problems are even death after contracting a "rare but potentially severe condition", according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Similar to polio, the disease affects a person's nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, and can cause paralysis. Most patients must be hospitalized.

What are the symptoms of AFM?

"But we do know that over time, with rehabilitation therapies, numerous children can regain function". However, the patients can regain functionality of the muscles through physical therapy. This occurs when the muscles involved with breathing become weak and can require urgent ventilator support through the use of a breathing machine.

7-year-old Quentin Hill is one of six kids diagnosed with the illness in Minnesota. Elaine and Michael Young said that soon after their now-four-year-old son Orville developed a fever in July, he started losing mobility in his right arm.

The disease is known to hit the nervous system by traveling through the spinal cord.


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