Michelle Holshu, an epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, said all the local cases involve children younger than 6 who had respiratory illnesses the week before developing AFM. It's a rare but serious condition, that causes inflammation in the spinal cord area that directly affects a person's muscles.
The children live in King, Pierce, Lewis, Snohomish and Skagit counties.
Most of the cases logged by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been children.
The CDC began tracking the cases in 2014 after seeing an uptick in the number of cases. Other symptoms include facial drooping, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech, the CDC says. The disease most closely resembles polio, but doctors don't know what causes its terrifying symptoms - or how to treat them besides waiting them out. "We will continue to work with our partners at the CDC and local health departments to make sure that all NY families have the information they need to prevent their children and others from getting the virus". Were working closely with medical providers and public health agencies. Poliovirus and West Nile virus may sometimes lead to AFM. Well continue to investigate and share information when we have it.
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While there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, you can help protect yourself from some of its known causes by: washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick people, and cleaning surfaces with a disinfectant, especially those that a sick person has touched.
Health officials will never have a firm count of cases of AFM because not all states require doctors to report them. It again increased in 2016, with 149 cases confirmed in 38 states and the District of Columbia. In 2017 there were three cases, and since the beginning of 2018 there has been one case in the state. Most cases are in children.
Still, CDC estimates that less than one in a million people in the United States will get AFM every year.