3 new cases of rare polio-like illness reported

There are three new cases of a rare illness with symptoms similar to polio, and the patients are being treated in Pittsburgh. This follows an unusual rise this year in cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in several states.

The poorly understood  illness is thought to attack the body’s nervous system.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said there have been 38 confirmed cases of AFM this year through the end of September. Fourteen cases have been reported in Colorado and six in Minnesota, most of them children.

Elaine and Michael Young said after a fever in July, their now-4-year-old Orville had trouble moving his right arm. Doctors found a clue to what was wrong from an MRI scan.

“The results come back that he had an abnormality throughout his entire spinal cord,” Elaine Young said.

Orville was diagnosed with AFM and spent six days in the hospital. At his worst, Orville was unable to move the upper part of his right arm and had trouble moving his legs and sitting up.

“I just felt so sad for him, that this thing we didn’t know about and couldn’t protect him from had happened and had taken a lot away from him,” Michael Young said.

Symptoms include a sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and difficulty moving facial muscles.

One possible cause is an immune reaction to an infection called enterovirus, which can be spread by coughing or sneezing. To put the recent increase in perspective, the highest number of reported cases was 149 in 2016.

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