This condition is not new, according to the CDC, but the agency began seeing an increase in cases four years ago, nearly all involving young children.
The children are from King, Pierce, Snohomish and Lewis counties, the health department said.
The first five possible cases affected children in King, Pierce, Lewis and Snohomish counties. The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure that can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak.
The hospital is now working with the health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to administer testing to confirm if the child does indeed have AFM. "AFM causes patients' muscles to weaken and symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs, neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech". The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found. CDC specialists will make the final determination if these cases are AFM.
The disease, which attacks the nervous system, is not contagious from person to person but may be spread by a virus or the likes of mosquito bites .
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The doctor says there is no need to panic and there's no vaccine for the disease. "So we've seen that there's an association between viruses, specifically enterovirus, in the past". Some people with AFM may be unable to pass urine (pee).
"What we do know is that AFM can be caused by lots of different things, and one of those things is a viral infection", Dr. Meade said. It is believed that AFM can be contagious, and for this reason, isolation protocols are in place for patients who are confirmed to have the neurological illness. Between January 1 to September 30, 2018, 38 people in 16 states have been confirmed to have AFM. In addition to the pair of cases at CHOP, three cases are also being treated in Pittsburgh, 6ABC reported.
Since the CDC began tracking AFM cases four years ago, at least 362 cases have been logged nationwide, according to the CDC's website.