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Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a syndrome characterized by rapid onset of flaccid weakness in one or more limbs.

What is known about the illness is that more than 90 percent of the confirmed cases are in children 18 years old or younger.

In some cases patients recover from the paralysis, but in others it continues.

"AFM is a rare, but serious condition that affects the nervous system".

Experts say the early symptoms of the disease include arm or leg weakness, and loss of muscle tone. Some other symptoms may include neck weakness or stiffness; drooping eyelids or a facial droop; and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech, Public Health said.

While AFM has made it onto quite a few headlines this year, the number of confirmed cases is on a similar level to those in 2014 and 2016.

At least 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states this year, and at least 65 additional illnesses in those states are being investigated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For 3-year-old Camden Stravers, what his parents thought was the common cold developed into something far worse.

While the CDC has yet to confirm a case in Virginia, Hoff said her son Camdyn was diagnosed with AFM while hospitalized at UVA Medical Center, falling ill with the telltale symptoms.

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Neurological conditions like it have a variety of causes, such as viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders.

Another wave hit in 2016, with 149 patients affected in 39 states.

"We need to pay attention to this, because the long-term consequences the children and their parents suffer is vast", said Dr. Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, a neurological disease expert with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Although there is unlikely to be a vaccine or specific treatment anytime soon, there are still things researchers can do to combat AFM, Messacar says, such as keeping better track of enterovirus D68 and A71 infections, learning more about the link between the viruses and AFM, and understanding the genetic changes that have occurred in enterovirus D68 to make it more risky.

Doctors diagnose AFM based on a combination of the patient's symptoms and an MRI scan.

"This is actually a pretty dramatic disease", she said.

CDC officials have not confirmed any specific cause of AFM, Messonnier said.

While just one person in a million gets it every year, it's a growing health concern. The disease is being called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and although researchers suspect that it's caused by a virus, no virus has yet been discovered that's associated with the condition. They also suggested that children stay up-to-date with their vaccines and practice good hand-washing habits.

The mysterious increase in cases of AFM, as it's called, was first spotted in the late summer and autumn of 2014. "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".


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