U.S. CDC confirms 62 cases of rare polio-like neurological condition

(Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 62 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a rare, polio-like condition that causes weakness in the arms or legs, across 22 states.

FILE PHOTO — A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo

The CDC is investigating 127 reported cases, including the ones that have been confirmed. More than 90 percent of the cases reported so far are people under 18 years of age.

The number of confirmed cases reported to date is similar to levels reported in the fall of 2014 and 2016.

Acute flacid myelitis or AFM is not new, but cases have been on the rise since 2014. The condition affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs.

The condition remains very rare. The CDC estimates it affects only 1 out of 1 million people in the United States. Most of the cases have involved children.

The cause of the disorder has not yet been identified. Scientists are investigating a number of causes, including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC said on its website.

“We understand that people particularly parents are concerned,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a here media briefing on Tuesday.

“Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases. We want to encourage parents to seek medical care right away if you or your child develops symptoms of AFM, such as sudden weakness and loss of muscle tone in your arms or legs.”

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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