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Seventh child in Minnesota contracts paralyzing illness

The Minnesota Department of Health says a seventh child has been struck by a rare, paralyzing illness that has been reported across the country.

Posted: Oct. 17, 2018 7:34 AM
Updated: Oct. 17, 2018 11:34 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A seventh child has been diagnosed with a rare, paralyzing illness that has seen an uptick in cases this year in the U.S., the Minnesota Department of Health said.

The symptoms in the latest case match those of the other children in Minnesota who have been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, health officials said Tuesday. The polio-like illness causes limited mobility or paralysis.

U.S. health officials on Tuesday reported a jump in cases of AFM. At least 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states this year and at least another 65 illnesses in those states are being investigated as possible AFM cases.

Minnesota's state epidemiologist, Jayne Griffith, said parents should watch their children for signs of the illness.

"Note if anything seems different in terms of the way they're moving or the way they may be holding an arm or a leg or maybe talking about muscle pains or aches," she said.

All the children afflicted in Minnesota are under the age of 10. The first six victims were hospitalized.

"I believe that of the first six, five of them have been discharged from the hospital," Griffith said. "One is still hospitalized and a couple of the cases that were discharged were receiving some outpatient rehabilitation services."

AFM can arise after an infection and affects the nervous system, according to health officials. Symptoms include sudden weakness in arm and leg muscles, neck weakness or stiffness, drooping of the eyelids or face, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says waves of the same illness occurred in 2014 and 2016, though researchers don't know the cause.

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