Illinois, Colorado, Washington report cases of polio-like illness in children

But shortly thereafter, unusual and frightening symptoms, such as limb weakness, face drooping and difficulty talking or swallowing, set in.

The cause of the condition is unknown but the key symptom to look for is weakened limbs and loss of feeling in the arms or legs. It is a neurological condition that impacts the brain and the spinal cord, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no cure for AFM. But not all who fall ill from an enterovirus will go on to develop the condition, experts say.

However, it can be hard to detect how patients actually get AFM.

"Most of the cases [of AFM] that CDC has learned about have been in children", the CDC writes on its website.

Indeed, there has been an uptick in cases of AFM across the country.

The mysterious illness that's paralyzing children is spreading across the United States, with cases popping up in both Chicago and Pittsburgh after initial reports from Minnesota. This year along, there were 38 people diagnosed with AFM across 16 states.

Since the CDC began tracking AFM cases four years ago, at least 362 cases have been logged nationwide, according to the CDC's website. A few require ventilators to breathe, NBC News reported. An additional possible case of AFM was reported out of Skagit County on Thursday. These states include California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. However, the 2014 cases coincided with a national outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a virus called enterovirus D68.

Separate from these five cases of illness, there has been one other case of AFM in Washington this year and there were three cases identified in 2017, according to the health department. The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found. CDC specialists will make the final determination if these cases are AFM.

The doctor says there is no need to panic and there's no vaccine for the disease.

"You can protect yourself and your children from poliovirus by getting vaccinated", the CDC advises.

Doctors now don't know a lot about how AFM spreads.

Even with extensive lab testing, AFM is hard to diagnose, because it so similar to other conditions, including poliovirus, West Nile virus and adenoviruses, the CDC reports.

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