Tenn. child diagnosed with mysterious illness; 22 states affected

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Officials have confirmed there is a possible case of acute flaccid myelitis, an illness similar to polio, in Douglas County.

"We don't know why in the majority of cases, we don't even find a cause for the illness, we can't determine what virus may have caused it, and so that's been challenging nationwide", said Susann Ahrabi-Fard, communicable disease epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Sixty-two cases of the rare but serious condition have now been confirmed in 22 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

So far across the county, 62 cases of the rare polio-like neurological condition have been reported.

The affected have reportedly ranged in age from 18 to 4-years-old. "Most of the people who get sick have had a viral disease and then it comes after that generally but there's a great deal of research that needs to be done on this".

While AFM is incredibly rare, the current rate is less than one case for every 1 million Americans, Messonnier urged parents and health care providers to be on the lookout for symptoms. "We actually don't know what is causing this increase".

Messonnier said the search for a cause is frustrating, and so far, no particular pathogen or immune response has been identified that would explain the big AFM peaks.

Acute flaccid myelitis affects the spinal cord and can cause partial paralysis.

Federal health officials released the updated numbers on Tuesday, and said they still had no idea what was causing the spike in AFM cases or why kids were getting it in the first place.

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The number of confirmed cases has been on the rise since late 2014, when there were 120 confirmed cases from August to December in 34 states. Additional symptoms include facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech.

In total, CNN found 47 confirmed cases and 49 more that were suspected or being investigated, for a total of 96.

The long-term effects are not known, and outcomes have been different for patients, with some recovering quickly and others having lasting paralysis and requiring ongoing care.

The CDC has not traced the illness to a specific virus, but the agency said it has a variety of causes including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders.

"Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

Unlike polio, there is no vaccine for AFM.

Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, mostly strikes children and affects the nervous system.

On a Facebook page dedicated to the disease, one parent posted that her daughter was diagnosed with AFM four years ago after catching enterovirus.

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