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Polio-type illness reaches Indiana and Illinois

Health officials are warning of a mystery illness with polio-like symptoms. A sickness that's targeting children. It's called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM).

Posted: Oct. 24, 2018 7:01 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Health officials are warning of a mystery illness with polio-like symptoms. A sickness that's targeting children. It's called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM).

Health experts are still learning what they can about the disease. But, they do know what this looks like. There hasn't been a case of polio in the United States for more than 20 years. Cases of AFM have been spotted in both Indiana and Illinois.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most patients are children with the average age being 4-years-old.

Dr. Mellekate Vishwas, a local pediatric neurologist. He says symptoms can also include drooping of the face and trouble breathing.

"It affects the muscles of the respiration," Dr. Vishwas said. "It's the muscles in the chest that we use for breathing. If those muscles are affected and they become weak than a person or a child will not be able to breathe."

He says the cause of AFM is still unknown.

Dr. Vishwas says one possible way the disease can develop is from a viral infection, such as West Nile virus. "A mosquito bite can cause this," he added."

Doctors say AFM can start out with cold-like symptoms later progressing and making the body weak.

"Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea before they build up the weakness," Dr. Vishwas said.

Dr. Vishwas says helping your children avoid germs as much as possible could help lower the risk of getting the disease. Also teach them good hand-washing skills as early as possible and stay up-to-date on vaccinations.

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