Illinois Department of Health officials were investigating this week after nine “sporadic” cases of children diagnosed with a new polio-like illness were reported and confirmed within the state.
Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is a rare, but potentially severe condition that has been on the rise, a recent report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevent stated.
An Illinois Department of Public Health statement said they are working with doctors to collect information on the nine cases reported.
While officials said the cases occurred in northern Illinois, more specific locations were not publicly available.
“Illinois has monitored this syndrome since 2014 when it was first described by CDC. Since 2015, four cases reviewed by CDC experts have been counted in Illinois,” the IDHP stated.
From August 2014 to August 2018, the CDC reported receiving information that there had been a total of 362 cases, most of which affected children. This year, there have been 38 confirmed cases in 16 states across the U.S.
The infection is similar to viruses like polio and West Nile that affect the nervous system — especially the spinal cord — causing muscles and reflexes to become weak. Those who contract AFM face paralysis, long-term health problems and even death.
CDC officials said that they have not confirmed a cause for the majority of AFM cases and continue to investigate.
The increase in AFM cases has coincided with a national outbreak of sever respiratory illnesses caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a non-polio virus, according to the report.