AFM in 22 states: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

AFM in 22 states: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

AFM in 22 states: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What happened: So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 62 cases of acute flaccid myelitis and plans to investigate 65 more. So far, 2016 was the worst year, with 149 confirmed cases.

AFM can cause weakness and pain in the arms and legs. Only one death has been reported, which involved an AFM illness reported in 2017.

There are now more than 125 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis - the "mystery illness" that's been affecting children across the USA and leaving them paralyzed.

Kate Fowlie, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said in an email that many states are voluntarily reporting their data on the disease and that "many parents are coming forward to tell their stories".

"We understand that people, particularly parents, are concerned about AFM", said Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Of those, 30 states said they had cases that were confirmed, suspected or being investigated - including 15 states that said they had confirmed cases in 2018.

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM", Messonnier said during a teleconference for reporters.

The virus is diagnosed by examining a patient's nervous system and in combination with looking at photos of the patient's spinal cord, the CDC says.

Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has treated children with AFM at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said AFM is "exquisitely rare".

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The CDC began tracking the condition in 2014, when there were 120 confirmed cases.

A sharp spike in cases of pediatric acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is raising red flags with health officials, who despite concerted efforts, haven't identified a cause. The average age of those afflicted is 4, and 90 percent of those with AFM are 18 or younger.

Although some AFM patients tested positive for an enterovirus, indicating a possible link, not all had the virus.

There is no treatment specifically for AFM, but affected children can undergo physical and occupational therapy to maximize their strength and adapt to their limitations.

"What is alarming and frightening is they suddenly develop weakness, and typically it's in an arm or leg. and it comes out of the blue.and that weakness comes and often times it's persists", Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

In research developments, a team based at the J. Craig Venter Institute conducted experiments to see if a specific EV-D68 genotype is linked to neurologic symptoms and found that some viruses from the 2014 outbreak can infect neuronal cells.

WATCH: Six children from Minnesota have been diagnosed with a rare condition that causes weakness or even paralysis in the arms and legs.

The CDC says disease prevention steps should be followed, including staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and using mosquito repellant.

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