Three cases of acute flaccid myelitis – the mysterious polio-like illness that can result in paralysis – have been reported in Alabama, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are now 116 confirmed cases of AFM in 31 states with another 170 possible cases under investigation. The number of confirmed cases has increased by 10 in the last week, CDC figures show. The greatest number of cases, 15, were reported in Colorado, followed by Texas with 14 and eight in Washington, Ohio and Minnesota.
The vast majority of the cases involve children younger than age 4. Symptoms range from fever and cough which usually last about a week before the onset of marked weakness in the arms and legs and paralysis.
CDC began tracking AFM after an uptick in the illness in 2014. Researchers don’t know the exact cause of the condition, though it noted most patients had an onset of AFM between August and October.
“At this same time of year, many viruses commonly circulate, including enteroviruses, and will be temporally associated with AFM,” the CDC said.
AFM is marked by a sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Some people also experience facial drooping or weakness; difficulty moving their eyes; dropping eyelids; or difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech. Some people also report pain or tingling in their arms or legs.
Parents are advised to monitor their child’s condition and if they exhibit any of the symptoms to seek medical care immediately.