9 cases of polio-like illness reported in Illinois

Quinton Hill and his parents

The illness causes a weakening of the nerves and resembles polio. But shortly thereafter, odd and frightening symptoms, such as limb weakness, face drooping and difficulty talking or swallowing, set in.

Still, CDC estimates that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year. For example, neurologists may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness caused by AFM.

At this point, doctors are not required to report AFM to the state, so it is possible that there could be unreported cases out there, according to DSHS. Now the downtown Chicago hospital says a second child is being treated there, but the family in the second case didn't want to be identified. "In addition to investigating the outbreak, the state health department has issued alerts to health care providers on how to test for the viruses and enhanced guidance to child care centers on infection prevention", the department said in a statement.

Indeed, there has been an uptick in cases of AFM across the country. The CDC says the condition is not new but there's been an increase in cases starting in 2014. What causes it is unknown, possibly a virus, but doctors just don't know. The causes of AFM vary from viruses to environmental toxins to genetic disorders, according to the health department.

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In previous years, cases of AFM in Colorado and elsewhere have been positive for a different enterovirus, EV-D68.

Since August 2014, when the CDC began tracking the illness more closely, the agency has reported 362 cases. Many people compare the disease to polio because it can cause problems that are very similar to the poliovirus. You can reduce the chance of mosquito bites by using insect repellent and keeping kids indoors during times when mosquitos are prevalent.

The condition is still very rare, occurring in fewer than one in a million people in the US each year, the CDC says. Numbness or tingling is rare in people with AFM, although some people have pain in their arms or legs. Most said parents can do is encouraging kids to wash their hands, teaching them to cover their mouths with their elbow when they cough or sneeze, and keep them home if they are sick.

Muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing and facial drooping are all signs of the polio-like illness that's now showing up in hospitals.

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