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Report: 7th child in Minnesota diagnosed with rare disease that attacks the nervous system

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating.

The number of children in the United States diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is once again spiking. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that there have been at least 62 cases of the disease in the U.S. this year, with the cases spanning 22 states. In other words, it's extremely rare with less than one in a million people getting it, but the numbers are on the rise just as they were in 2014 and 2016. 

Six cases have been confirmed in Minnesota, although WCCO reported Tuesday that the Minnesota Department of Health has reported a seventh case in the state. All of the clinical diagnosis in Minnesota have come since mid-September, the MDH said in a news release last week

Most cases involve children, the CDC notes. In Minnesota, each case has involved a child aged 10 or younger and cases have been confirmed in the Twin Cities, central and northeastern Minnesota.

Symptoms include:

  • Neck weakness or stiffness
  • Drooping eyelids or a facial droop
  • Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech

Those hard-hitting symptoms tend to develop a week or so after a fever and respiratory illness. 

"If parents see potential symptoms of AFM in their child, (for example, if he or she is not using an arm) they should contact their health care provider as soon as possible," the MDH says. 

The CDC says the disease is following an every-other-year pattern, with bouts of it spiking in 2014, 2016 and again in 2018. 

The cause of AFM is unknown. 

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