U.S. CDC confirms 62 cases of rare polio-like neurological condition

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed frustration and concern Tuesday about a puzzling surge in cases of polio-like paralysis, mostly in children, being reported across the country this year.

"CDC has been actively investigating AFM, testing specimens and monitoring disease since 2014, when we first saw an increase in cases", Messonnier said.

"For some previous cases, we have identified one pathogen or another, but we have no unifying diagnosis", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

When AFM strikes, patients experience sudden weakness, as well as loss of muscle tone and reflexes in the arms and legs.

The cause for the rare condition is still unclear.

Messonnier stressed the rarity of the condition, emphasizing that it happens in fewer than one in a million children in the U.S. So far this year, cases have been confirmed in 22 states, based on findings from MRI studies and the cluster of symptoms a child has. The average age of those afflicted is 4, and 90 percent of those with AFM are 18 or younger.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for AFM, though the CDC says neurologists may suggest options on a case-by-case basis.

Cases have been on the rise since 2014.

Although symptoms resemble polio, no evidence of poliovirus has been found in specimens from any case diagnosed so far, Messonnier said. Symptom onset is generally quite sudden, and Messonnier urged parents to seek medical care quickly for children displaying these symptoms.

"It's rare, but certainly when you hear about it it's very scary for parents", CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula told "CBS This Morning".

Many local cases have been treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"That's important because enteroviruses cause the common cold", Ellerin said. Numbers dropped drastically in 2015 and 2017 - to 22 and 33, respectively - but were back up again in 2016 at 149. Those officials are probing another 65 illnesses in those states. Fifteen states said they'd confirmed cases this year.

Parents can best protect their children from serious diseases by taking prevention steps, such as washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended vaccines and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

According to yesterday's warning issued by the CDC, the disease could be linked to environmental toxins, genetic disorders or other viruses such as West Nile. Some children paralyzed by AFM have eventually regained their ability to walk, but need time.

The CDC is investigating 127 reported cases, including the ones that have been confirmed.

"Families really sticking with it are seeing slow but steady recovery", he said.

Dana Hedgpeth and Justin Wm.