According to health officials, since September 20, six pediatric cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported to the health department. It's very rare and typically affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord which could lead to paralysis in some cases.
Up through September of this year, 38 cases of AFM have been confirmed in 16 states, according to the CDC, and 362 people have contracted AFM since August 2014. This disease, AFM is not exactly like polio as it has no vaccination.
Three children at UPMC Children's Hospital are suspected of having AFM, while 38 others in 16 states have been diagnosed recently.
The Centers for Disease and Control said AFM has afflicted only 362 people nationwide in the past four years. Possible causes may include viruses, such as the poliovirus, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses, as well as environmental toxins or genetic factors.
However, oftentimes, even with extensive lab tests, the cause of a patient's AFM is not identified.
Symptoms of AFM are comparable to polio, including numbness of the limbs, facial drooping and slurred speech.
"Protecting your children against viruses or protecting ourselves against terrorism and things like that", Tiffany Lanier, another parent, said, "you can't really protect against these things they just happen".
AFM can be developed from a viral infection, although its exact cause is unknown. There were only 33 reported cases a year ago, according to the CDC. After a diagnosis is made, health providers and investigators try to retrace the path of the illness to its source.
Quinton has lost a lot of the strength in his left arm, along with some weakness in his legs and neck. "This condition is not new, but the increase in cases we saw starting in 2014 is new". These include washing hands frequently to limit exposure to germs, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing and staying home when feeling sick. Doctors stress that the early signs of AFM should be recognized and treatment should be started as soon as possible to prevent from severity of disease.
"As AFM affects mostly children and has no known cure, it is imperative that CDC conduct an expedited investigation and response to AFM infections", Ms. Klobuchar wrote in the letter. This virus is transmitted from person to person and it can have severe effects of the brain and spinal cord of the system. It is actively investigating AFM cases, and trying to unearth more information about the rare condition.