127 cases of polio-like illness under investigation, CDC says

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The other case of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, occurred in August, and four others are under investigation in MA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 62 cases in 22 states this year.

The rare AFM condition mostly presents in children but so far a cause or consistent patient pathogen has alluded doctors.

Officials say AFM is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system and spinal cord.

Many other aspects of the illness remain unknown, including what factors puts a person at risk of becoming ill and the long-term consequences.

Symptoms include arm and leg weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, in addition to facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech. The CDC still has not pin-pointed exactly what's causing this disorder, but they suspect a virus that circulates this time of the year. CDC experts say the overall rate of AFM is about one in a one million.

The agency had a teleconference with health providers slated for later today, and it provided a toolkit for diagnosing AFM, along with instructions for reporting suspected cases. But some state health departments have been making public their reported cases.

Beginning in the summer and fall of 2014, an apparent increase in reports of AFM occurred in the United States.

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"As a parent myself I understand what it's like to be scared for your child", Messonnier said.

Once diagnosed, some patients have recovered quickly, but some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care, Messonnier said. "And certainly after three cycles of this, when we've looked through all the normal agents, we're looking beyond that to see if there are things beyond normal infectious diseases that could cause this", said Messonnier.

Still, because this is a "pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier said, health officials want to raise awareness about the symptoms to ensure parents seek medical care immediately if their children show a sudden onset of weakness in their arms and legs.

CDC officials say some possible suspected causes, like polio and West Nile virus, have been ruled out.

Officials said they will be conducting additional analysis on this year's cases.

She recommended that parents take routine protections against viral infections, such as keeping up to date on immunizations, washing hands, and avoiding mosquito bites.

In research developments, a team based at the J. Craig Venter Institute conducted experiments to see if a specific EV-D68 genotype is linked to neurologic symptoms and found that some viruses from the 2014 outbreak can infect neuronal cells.

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