Mysterious Paralyzing Illness Like Polio Found Among Kids in 22 States

CDC headquarters

Modal Trigger Shutterstock

Another resides in Louisville.

The vast majority of cases are in children, particularly young kids, Benson said.

"It's rare, but certainly when you hear about it it's very scary for parents", CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula told "CBS This Morning". "In this cases it's unknown", Ehresmann said.

It's possible that some milder cases haven't been reported by doctors to their state health department or to the CDC, but Messonnier said she believes the number of such cases would be small, NPR reported. She said based on the size of a Facebook group for AFM parents, the numbers are likely higher than what's been confirmed nationally. "It causes a lot of what [are] typically very mild sort of nuisance type diseases". The highest number of cases took place in 2016, when 149 were reported cases in 39 states.

This year's outbreak marks the third wave of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) to hit the United States since 2014, and this wave is on track to be the worst yet, experts say.

The increase in cases has been happening since 2014, usually in August and September, but only in 2014 and 2016, Messonnier said in a news briefing with reporters.

So far this year, the CDC has confirmed 62 cases in 22 states. Sixty-five suspected cases are being investigated. The average age of patients is 4.

"I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She said that most AFM cases occur in the late summer and fall. At this point, there appears to be no geographic clusters in the illness.

Appliance giants Whirlpool and Frigidaire among top unsecured creditors in Sears bankruptcy
It listed $6.9 billion in assets and $11.3 billion in liabilities in documents filed in the bankruptcy court, Reuters reported . Lampert, the company's largest shareholder, has stepped down as CEO but will remain chairman of the board.

Most patients who get the polio-like condition are children and as we enter the cold and flu season, AFM is one more thing for parents to watch out for.

There's no specific treatment that helps or reverses the effects of the condition.

Some patients have recovered quickly and others have received on-going care. "And we know of one death in 2017 in a child that had AFM". 'At this moment, we don't know if it's a virus that is coming and producing direct damage of the gray matter in the spinal cord, ' he said, 'or if a virus is triggering immunological responses that produce a secondary damage in the spinal cord.' It's not clear who is at risk. No one finding can explain all the cases, she said.

Besides viruses, officials are also considering environmental toxins as a possible cause, but so far, they have no evidence that a particular toxin is behind the cases. "And we can't always detect them in each individual patient for a variety of reasons". It causes hand, foot and mouth disease.

Concerns are sweeping the nation regarding the mysterious virus that causes paralysis in children.

In 2014, a large AFM epidemic coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), but in-depth testing of patient samples hasn't consistently found a common cause.

But mysteriously no other country has reported the emerging every-two-years pattern seen in the U.S., Messonnier said.

Latest News