Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health said it was investigating six cases of AFM in children over the past few weeks but did not identify what virus or other cause may have led to the illnesses.
"At this point there isn't evidence that would point to a single source of illness among these cases", said Dr. Scott Lindquist, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the Department of Health. "We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly, and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care", the CDC said.
On average, the Minnesota Department of Health sees only about one case per year. It's possible that AFM has a variety of causes, including viruses (such as poliovirus and enteroviruses), environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC says. It is actively investigating AFM cases, and trying to unearth more information about the rare condition.
Kris Ehresmann with the state Health Department advises parents, "Any kind of acute muscle weakness in their kids, in arms and legs, that obviously doesn't have anything to do with spraining your ankle at soccer, that definitely they should seek medical attention".
The Washington Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm if the children have AFM.
"Polio has been known to cause this kind of paralysis, but right now we have very good vaccination rates for polio and we haven't had a polio case in this country for a while".
Since the CDC began tracking AFM cases four years ago, at least 362 cases have been logged nationwide, according to the CDC's website. A 2016 report found there were 120 cases recorded across 34 states from August through December 2014. In 2017 the CDC recorded only 33 cases, and in 2015 it confirmed only 22 cases.
Symptoms include weakness of the limbs, facial drooping, and trouble swallowing or speaking.
Quinton Hill is one of six cases of AFM in Minnesota reported since September 20. However, the 2014 cases coincided with a national outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a virus called enterovirus D68. This is because CDC is asking doctors to be alert for patients with symptoms of AFM so that we can learn more about this condition.
In Chicago, doctors say Julia Payne had an enterovirus that caused the AFM.
Most people will have sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Practices such as regular hand-washing are recommended.
You can protect against bites from mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus, by using mosquito repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn (when bites are more common), and removing standing or stagnant water near your home (where mosquitoes can breed).