Sixth Washington child hospitalized with mysterious illness, health officials say

Quinton Hill and his parents

Quinton Hill and his parents

- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is calling on the federal government to look into recent cases of a rare illness after six cases were reported in Minnesota.

A polio-like illness that primarily impacts children is on the rise across the United States.

Acute flaccid myelitis has been diagnosed in at least six Minnesota children and health officials admit there are gaps in our understanding of the disease, including its causes and how to treat it. It also does not include the cases in Minnesota or IL, as they are not confirmed.

The state health department is working with the CDC to determine if these are indeed cases of AFM. The virus causes the muscles and reflexes in the body become weak.

There is a reported total of 8 AFM cases statewide.

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Symptoms of AFM include limb weakness, facial drooping and trouble swallowing or talking.

CDC specialists will make the final determination as to whether the cases in Washington are AFM, state health officials said.

Children's Hospital Colorado saw a cluster of AFM cases in 2014, which led to more research into the rare disease.

Some viruses and germs have been linked to AFM, including common germs that can cause colds and sore throats, and respiratory infections.

Five western Washington children under the age of 6 have been hospitalized for a "sudden onset of paralysis of one of more limbs".

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In Chicago, doctors say Julia Payne had an enterovirus that caused the AFM.

AFM is a rare condition that affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Individuals diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) experience different issues due to largely gray matter involvement during recovery than traditional transverse myelitis with spastic paralysis. The causes of cases are often not confirmed.

"We've been vigilant", Sanford Health Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Clifford Mauriello said. One hundred forty-nine cases were reported in 39 states in 2016 and 22 cases in 17 states in 2015.

Doctors say the best way to prevent AFM is frequent handwashing and keeping children home and away from others when they are sick.

Doctors are encouraging people to practice what are called "general prevention strategies" - including washing your hands with soap and water, getting vaccinated and preventing mosquito bites.

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