Six Minnesota kids suffer rare, polio-like disorder

Six Minnesota children have been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) since September 20, causing state health officials to issue an alert to doctors. The disorder is rare, affecting less than 1 in 1 million children, and causes reduced mobility or paralysis in the limbs.

Six Minnesota children have been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) since September 20, causing state health officials to issue an alert to doctors. The disorder is rare, affecting less than 1 in 1 million children, and causes reduced mobility or paralysis in the limbs. Treatment and therapy can restore lost mobility in some children, but AFM can be fatal in individuals who lose the muscular function to breathe. "It is very rare and it is certainly something we're taking very seriously," said Kris Ehresmann, who directs the Minnesota Department of Health's infectious disease section. "It's a very devastating situation," she added. AFM came to the attention of CDC in 2014 after clusters of cases surfaced in Colorado and California. States have since reported 362 cases. Ehresmann hopes that closer examination of the children could reveal causes, but the cases are not even verified by lab test results. Ehresmann said it is the "constellation of symptoms" that connects them. "We're looking into any kind of commonality, but at this point … we don't have anything to wrap up in a bow," she said. Along with viruses, health officials believe the disorder is tied to unknown genetic and environmental factors.