Three cases of acute flaccid myelitis – the mysterious polio-like disease that can lead to paralysis – have been reported in Alabama, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are currently 116 confirmed cases of AFM in 31 states and a further 170 possible cases under investigation. The number of confirmed cases increased by 10 last week, according to CDC figures. The largest number of cases, 15, were reported in Colorado, followed by Texas with 14 and eight in Washington, Ohio and Minnesota.
The vast majority of cases involve children under 4 years of age. Symptoms range from fever to cough, which usually last about a week before the onset of marked weakness of the arms and legs and paralysis.
The CDC started following the AFM after a slight increase in the disease in 2014. The researchers do not know the exact cause of the disease, although it was noted that most patients had an onset of the disease. AFM between August and October.
"At this same time of the year, many viruses, including enteroviruses, circulate fluently and will be temporarily associated with the AFM," said the CDC.
The AFM is characterized by the sudden onset of weakness of the arms or legs, as well as by a loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Some people also have a sagging or weakened face; difficulty moving your eyes lower the eyelids; or difficulty swallowing or difficulty speaking. Some people also report pain or tingling in the arms or legs.
Parents are advised to monitor the condition of their child and if they have any of the symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.