Ohio's reported cases occurred in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Mercer and Pickaway counties in August and September, and all affected boys from 1 to 13 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department. (Of the 155 cases this year, 62 are confirmed in 22 states). Most of the confirmed cases nationally involve children.
AFM tends to affect children and young adults-among the confirmed cases, the average age of those afflicted is 4, and 90% of those with the condition are age 18 or younger.
CDC stresses that AFM still remains a very rare condition, with an occurrence rate of less than one among a million people. 127 cases have been investigated overall across the country, and 3 of those cases are in Alabama.
The CDC confirmed 22 cases in 2015, 149 cases in 2016 and 33 cases in 2017, although the exact cause of the condition, and who is at higher risk for developing AFM and why have not been confirmed. Another cause could be a type of enterovirus called EV D68, Ellerin suggests. West Nile Virus (which can cause paralysis) also hasn't been linked to any of the recent cases, CDC said. "AFM can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases".
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The CDC is open to the possibility that it's not a virus that is causing the condition, but can not find any other plausible cause, either.
It's unclear what's causing the outbreak, which can develop after a viral infection, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.
AFM cases on the rise in the U.S. Story continues below video.
One linking thread is the timing, with the peak of the condition coming late in the summer and early autumn. "That's something that we're still really learning about", Jones said.
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The CDC has been clear on one thing: none of the patients has tested positive for polio.
"There are multiple different viruses that can cause this syndrome", Greenberg said. However, they want to stress how rare this condition is. Damage to the nervous system can be long-lasting or permanent. These viruses caused symptoms including encephalitis, a life-threatening inflammation of the brain; acute flaccid paralysis, which can include AFM and similar conditions; and meningitis.
Messonnier said parents (and kids) need to take preventative steps, such as washing their hands (the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections), using insect repellent and staying current on all immunizations, to help fight the virus causing AFM.
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