Five children in Washington state stricken with limb paralysis; health officials investigating

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This condition is not new, according to the CDC, but the agency began seeing an increase in cases four years ago, nearly all involving young children.

"It can extremely change lifestyles for these families", said Dr. Fernando Acosta, a neurologist at Cook Children's. The children are residents of King County (2), Pierce County (1), Lewis County (1), and Snohomish County (1) - the additional case is from Skagit County. By the end of that year, 120 people had been diagnosed in 34 states.

On Monday, news broke that six children in Minnesota have been infected with the rare disease that causes lowered mobility or paralysis in the arms and legs. AFM can cause a range of types and severity of symptoms, but the commonality among them is a loss of strength or movement in one or more arms or legs.

AFM is not a reportable disease, meaning there may be more cases that were just treated and the child recovered and AFM wasn't diagnosed. Four of the five children had a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, the department said. The viruses that are accounted to cause AFM may be contagious from one person to another or may be spread by a mosquito or other vector depending on which virus causes the AFM.

Possible causes of AFM include viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders.

Most affected by AFM will experience a sudden onset of weakness or paralysis in a limb, but some may also experience drooping face and eye muscles, difficulty swallowing or difficulty moving the eyes, according to the CDC.

Doctors now don't know a lot about how AFM spreads. "That enterovirus is transmittable from person to person, but you can't actually catch AFM from somebody else". From August 2014 through August 2018, the CDC has been notified of 362 cases of the illness, mostly in children.

"This is very, very dramatic when you see it", said.

She said viruses that can lead to AFM are transmissible between people.

In 2017, 33 cases were reported in 16 states.

It resembles polio, but unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM.

Dr. Mauriello believes he saw a case for himself in 2015, but no confirmed cases have been identified in North Dakota this year.