Polio-Like Condition in Kids on Rise Again in US

There have been dozens of cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in the US this year, including three at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh confirmed Tuesday afternoon that three children being treated at their facility are suspected of having the polio-like disease. The patients are now undergoing diagnostic procedures and treatments. "The CDC has been asking us to pay attention to this for quite a while".

Though officials have observed a rise in cases since 2014, the condition's origins remain unclear.

Health officials are warning parents to be on the lookout for symptoms. It can impair muscle reflexes and cause weakness in arms and legs.

AFM is a weakening of the nerves that causes partial paralysis in children.

"There's a sudden onset of weakness in the arm, leg, face, or the muscles that help us swallow and that we use to speak", says Dr. Amaran Moodley from the Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. Potential causes can be viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said. Some people may be unable to urinate, and, in severe cases, a person can suffer respiratory failure and must be put on a ventilator. By the end of that year, 120 people had been diagnosed in 34 states. "It nearly has to run its course and then you see where it settles out", he adds.

"The CDC has acknowledged that 362 cases of AFM have been reported since 2014, indicating an increasing infection rate".

While there is no cure, health experts say you should take preventative measures including washing your hands or coughing into your elbow. "This is a very rare condition", he stresses.