Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) has now been reported in 16 states so far this year.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been 38 confirmed cases of the polio-like condition across 16 states:
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare condition. It affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. AFM or neurologic conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.
Since August 2014, CDC has seen an increased number of people across the United States with AFM. We have not confirmed the cause for the majority of these cases. CDC has been actively investigating these AFM cases, and we continue to receive information about suspected AFM cases
There’s no cure and some children appear to have long-term disabilities, while others recover completely or nearly completely. A few need ventilators to breathe.
Acute flaccid myelitis appears to be caused most often by viruses, especially one called EV-D68. But other viruses may also be to blame. It seems to wax and wane from one year to the next, the CDC says.
“It is important to know that even though this is a rare condition and is being reported as a mystery illness, we really do understand much more about the causes of this disease,” Dr. Kevin Messacar, an infectious disease physician at Children’s Hospital Colorado told NBC.