There are now 6 cases of mysterious polio-like illness in N.J., says the CDC

The number of people with a mysterious polio-like illness that can weaken muscles and cause paralysis has risen to 116 – including six confirmed cases in New Jersey, federal officials said.

The disease – called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM – is a rare condition that affects the nervous system. This can weaken the muscles and reflexes of the body.

"The CDC has conducted a thorough investigation into MFA cases since 2014, when we found for the first time that a large number of cases had been reported," the agency said.

What you need to know about polio-like illness

According to the latest CDC report, there are 116 confirmed cases of MFA in 31 states.

"These 116 confirmed cases are among the 286 reports received by the CDC on patients under investigation," the report said.

Last month, public health officials announced three cases of MFA in New Jersey. The number of cases has increased to six, according to the CDC.

It is not known when the other three cases were diagnosed or in what state they were treated.

In addition to the six cases in New Jersey, there are two in New York and eight in Pennsylvania, the report said. Colorado, with 15 cases, and Texas, with 14 cases, have the most confirmed diseases.

According to the CDC, most people who contract the AFM suddenly experience weakness in their arms or legs and a loss of muscle tone and reflexes.

However, others may also have a drooping face or eyelids, difficulty moving their eyes and difficulty swallowing or having speech problems.

There is no specific treatment for AFM. But, according to the CDC, a neurologist may recommend certain physical or professional therapies "to help with a weakness of the arm or leg caused by the AFM".

The cause of the disease is unclear, but CDC officials have indicated that potential causes include polioviruses, adenoviruses, enteroviruses, and West Nile virus.

Getting vaccinated against polio, protecting against mosquito bites and washing hands are some of the ways to protect against MFAs, experts said.

Editor-in-Chief Spencer Kent contributed to this report.

Kelly Heyboer can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ KellyHeyboer. Find her on KellyHeyboerReporteron on Facebook.

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