UPMC confirms 3 suspected cases of rare disease that paralyzes children

"Some children have persisting swallowing problems so they're still dealing with the complications of using a feeding tube".

Three children are receiving treatment in Pittsburgh for a rare neurological disease that can lead to paralysis, UPMC officials confirmed Tuesday.

At Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, physicians are treating some of the six Minnesota cases.

The condition targets the spinal cord area that directly affects a person's muscles.

Two cases were reported in King County.

Most of the eight cases of the illness reported in Texas are in the northern part of the state.

Symptoms can include sudden limb weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial and eyelid drooping, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, swallowing difficulty or slurred speech, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We're working closely with medical providers and public health agencies". From August 2014 through August 2018, the CDC has been notified of 362 cases of the illness, mostly in children. It is actively investigating AFM cases, and trying to unearth more information about the mysterious condition.

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The cause of AFM, and the reason for the rise in cases starting in 2014, is not known. This year along, there were 38 people diagnosed with AFM across 16 states.

The doctor says there is no need to panic and there's no vaccine for the disease.

At this point, doctors aren't required to report cases to the state, so it's possible there are others.

Even with extensive lab testing, AFM is hard to diagnose, because it so similar to other conditions, including poliovirus, West Nile virus and adenoviruses, the CDC reports.

Although we are still learning about AFM and its causes, being up to date on all recommended vaccinations is one way to protect yourself and your family from diseases that can cause AFM.

The CDC estimates that less than a million people will get AFM every year in the United States. Three cases were reported in 2017, and one other case was reported in Washington since the beginning of 2018.

Doctors are encouraging people to practice what are called "general prevention strategies" - including washing your hands with soap and water, getting vaccinated and preventing mosquito bites.

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