Minnesota kids suffer rare, polio-like disorder

Ben Davidson
October 11, 2018

AFM is a condition that affects the body's nervous system, targets the spinal cord, and could lead to paralysis.

Three children at UPMC Children's Hospital are suspected of having AFM, while 38 others in 16 states have been diagnosed recently.

AFM appears to mainly affect children, and all of the cases in Minnesota have occurred in children under 10, the MDH said in an October 5 statement.

Both EV-D68 and EV-A71 are enteroviruses, and they are in the same family of viruses as polio. Between 2014 and 2018, the CDC received reports of more than 360 cases.

Most affected by AFM will experience a sudden onset of weakness or paralysis in a limb, but some may also experience drooping face and eye muscles, difficulty swallowing or difficulty moving the eyes, according to the CDC. There were only 33 reported cases a year ago, according to the CDC. They come from all over the state, including the Twin Cities area and northeastern and central Minnesota.

CDC has tested many different specimens from AFM patients for a wide range of pathogens (germs) that can cause AFM.

All six were under the age of 10 and reported weakness and paralysis in the arms and legs. The agency is also studying AFM outbreaks to better understand the condition and uring healthcare providers to be vigilant about its symptoms. "He's kind of like, one day at a time, whereas we're anxious about the whole rest of his life", Orville's father, Michael, said. AFM can be developed from a viral infection, although its exact cause is unknown.

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"But we do know that over time, with rehabilitation therapies, numerous children can regain function".

One victim, 5-year-old Carter Roberts of Chesterfield, Virginia, died last month after developing AFM in 2016. In severe cases, children might have trouble breathing and need a ventilator because of muscle weakness.

If parents see any of the symptoms in their kids, doctors are urging them to seek medical care as soon as possible. "There's not much that can be done and as a parent that's very hard to deal with".

"A lot of these people do require prolonged amounts of physical therapy to get their strength back up", says Cleveland Clinic pediatric infectious disease expert Dr.

There is no treatment for AFM, but doctors advise frequent hand washing, covering of coughs, avoidance of mosquito bites and staying up to date on vaccinations.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by Maggie Fox, NBC News.

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