Three cases of rare neurological condition confirmed in Illinois

Three cases of rare neurological condition confirmed in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois has three confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis, the rare but serious neurological condition that strikes mostly children, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Of the 16 possible cases state health officials have had under investigation this year — all from the northern and central areas of the state — one has been classified as probable, 10 remain under investigation and two are no longer considered to be cases. All but one of the 16 people investigated are under age 18.

Locations of the confirmed and possible cases aren't being disclosed by the state. However, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde said her agency hasn't been informed about any cases originating in Champaign County.

Sometimes described as a polio-like illness, AFM affects the spinal cord, causing abnormalities in the workings of muscles and reflexes, according to state health officials.

It isn't contagious, but some of the viruses that cause it are. Possible causes include exposure to poliovirus and nonpolio enteroviruses and adenoviruses (all contagious) and West Nile virus, which is spread by infected mosquitoes but not spread from person to person.

Common symptoms of AFM are sudden onset of limb weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Some people also experience facial drooping or weakness, difficulty moving their eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech and/or pain in arms or legs. The most severe possible symptom is respiratory failure resulting from weakening of the muscles involved in breathing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it knows of 404 confirmed AFM cases across the U.S. between August 2014 and this past October, mostly occurring in children.

There isn't a treatment for AFM, but certain interventions may be advised on a case-by-case basis, according to the state health department.

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