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May 20, 2019

Six Minnesota children diagnosed with rare polio-like disease

October 7, 2018
Six kids in Minnesota have been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis. (Leo Correa / AP)

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of a rare, polio-like disease that’s struck six children in the state since the middle of September.

The MDH said in a statement that several kids from across the state were diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which affects the nervous system and causes weakened muscles.

The condition is rare, and the state typically sees less than one diagnosis per year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, just 362 cases across the country were reported from August 2014-2018.

AFM is common in children, and the MDH said that all of the Minnesota cases involve kids under 10 years old.

In addition to limited mobility of arms and legs, symptoms include neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

“I can’t give really good hugs anymore, but I’m doing all of my exercises!” one of the patients, 4-year-old Orville Young, told the Star Tribune.

The condition can sometimes come on as a complication after a viral infection, or after a respiratory illness. A 2014 uptick in the number of cases coincided with the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by eneterovirus D68.

The MDH said its working with health care providers to learn more about each case, and is also teaming up with the CDC to swap information, as there is currently no specific treatment.

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