Acute flaccid myelitis: 6 cases of rare polio-like illness confirmed in Minnesota

Doctors and parents are on alert because of a recent spike among children in a mysterious and rare disorder that causes polio-like symptoms and even paralysis.

"He started just complaining of just really bad neck stiffness. He couldn't move his neck and then his left arm," father James Hil said.

His 7-year-old son Quinton was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

"We thought it was a dead arm. Like he was laying on it so we didn't think much of it at first. But a couple hours into not being able to move his arm, we got concerned," Hil said.

The Minnesota Department of Health sees zero to one cases of AFM per year on average. The state is now reporting six children diagnosed since September.

"It starts off with a cold, cough, runny nose, congestion, and before you know it, you have weakness and paralysis of your arms and your legs," said Dr. Janette Nesheiwat.

The CDC says AFM presents like polio or West Nile. Symptoms include weakness, loss of muscle tone, facial droop, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech and in severe cases paralysis.

We don't know what causes this, we suspect that it could be caused from a virus," said Dr. Nesheiwat.

The CDC said there have been 362 cases of AFM recorded in the U.S. from 2014 to 2018.

Experts said the cause for the recent uptick is unclear. While there is currently no cure for AFM, Quinton's dad, is confident his son can beat the odds.

"A small percentage of kids report that they're able to get function back so we're just hoping for the best and we know that Quinton is super resilient and if anyone's gonna get it back, we firmly believe that he will," Hil said.
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