Cases of mysterious paralyzing illness reported in 22 states

Federal health officials released the updated numbers on Tuesday, and said they still had no idea what was causing the spike in AFM cases or why kids were getting it in the first place.

Among the cases under investigation are five reported to Maryland health officials in recent weeks, a health department spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The CDC says it seems to be following an every other year pattern that emerges in the fall.

Lacking an established cause, health officials confirm cases through a review of brain scans and symptoms.

The CDC says to be on the lookout for the onset of arm or leg weakness, and loss of muscle tone and reflexes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 62 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a rare, polio-like condition that causes weakness in the arms or legs, across 22 states.

The agency said 127 cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported so far in 2018. The average age was 4.

"We understand that people, particularly parents, are concerned about AFM", said Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

"There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness", said Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the CDC.

"That's when children can really deteriorate and end up on a ventilator", Narula explains. But that bug - enterovirus D68 - could not be definitively linked to the illnesses. And though enteroviruses have been detected in some paralysis cases, it hasn't been found in others, CDC officials say. The illness has been compared to the polio and West Nile viruses. The illness mainly affects children. "Most of the people who get sick have had a viral disease and then it comes after that generally but there's a great deal of research that needs to be done on this".

"Nobody really knows treatment protocols, they don't know prognosis, and they can't really give parents an answer as to where this is coming from", she said.

"This is a pretty dramatic disease", Messonnier said. "Right now, we know that poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

CNN reached out to several health departments across the country, including IL, which reported 10 cases of AFM.

What are the symptoms of AFM?

Some merely have difficulty moving the eye or the face; some have a single weakening limb. This can require urgent ventilator support (breathing machine). Doctors at Children's have not seen an AFM patient needing a ventilator this year, but have treated such cases in the past, Benson said.

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