SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) — Add Illinois to the list of states battling a polio-like condition.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday said that nine people in the state have been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.
It’s a rare, polio-like condition that is being diagnosed in children across the country. AFM affects the nervous system, specifically part of the spinal cord, which causes weakness in the muscles and reflexes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah said health officials don’t know what is causing the kids to get sick.
“We don’t believe these individuals have any relation whatsoever. So it’s not something that we believe is hereditary or runs in families,” Shah said. “There are a number of scientific theories about what causes AFM. One of the theories that is under a lot of investigation right now is that it may be caused by a virus.”
Shah said whatever is causing AFM, it is causing children to get sick very quickly.
“We’re recommending that parents who’ve had a child that has had a respiratory virus, and then in the days or weeks after that virus experience a rapid onset of limbs going limp, or paralysis, that they immediately go to a health care provider,” Shah said.
The CDC said it’s concerned about a national AFM outbreak.
As of the end of September, the CDC said it has confirmed 38 AFM cases in 16 states.