Three potential new cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) were reported this week, but tests show one child did not have the condition.
Laboratory tests have ruled out a rare, polio-like disease as the cause of one child’s hospitalization in King County this week. Results are still pending on two other children hospitalized this week with suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), one in King County and one in Spokane.
Eight cases of AFM have been confirmed this fall in children in Washington. The neurological disorder causes weakness in the arms and legs and can also damage the spinal cord.
Some children recover, but others suffer long-term paralysis.
The Washington cases are part of a nationwide upswing in AFM, with at least 89 cases reported so far this year in 33 states.
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The cause of the illness remains unknown, but it can be associated with several types of viruses. State epidemiologists are investigating to see if there are any common factors in the Washington cases, said Washington Department of Health spokesperson Julie Graham.
AFM was ruled out in the case of a 6-year-old Bellingham boy who fell ill with similar symptoms and died Oct. 31.
Since so little is known about the causes of AFM, health officials can only urge general precautions to avoid disease, such as hand-washing and avoiding sick people.