At least 65 more cases are under investigation, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In 2015 and 2017, the counts of reported illnesses were far lower.
The CDC also does not yet know who may be at a higher risk for developing AFM or the long-term consequences of the condition. Symptoms are sudden arm or leg weakness, difficulty moving facial muscles, slurred speech and trouble swallowing. AFM appears to be seasonal, occurring mostly in the late summer and fall, but appears in greater numbers every other year. But Messonnier cautioned that it would be "premature" to be confident that this year will be the same as the earlier years.
One case of a polio-like disease has been confirmed in MA, the Department of Public Health announced.
It is "a pretty dramatic disease", but fortunately most kids recover, Messonnier said.
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. And it is not ruling out possible genetic disorders. "We actually don't know what is causing this increase". Testing of affected children has turned up a smattering of infections - some by enteroviruses, which is the broad family to which polioviruses belong, but also rhinoviruses, which cause head colds. Symptom onset is generally quite sudden, and Messonnier urged parents to seek medical care quickly for children displaying these symptoms. And in very rare cases, AFM can trigger fatal neurological complications, according to the CDC.
CNN has reported that this year, more than half of all USA states have had confirmed or possible cases, including North and SC.
The CDC is investigating the cases and monitoring the disease, and encourages people to prevent the disease by staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and protecting against mosquito bites.
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