SPOKANE, Wash. - A rare, serious illness is making its way across Washington State. Now, it's in Spokane County boy has been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis.
His is the ninth confirmed case in the state. The cases are spread throughout six different counties.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working with local health officials to investigate the spike in cases, but AFM has no known cause and no known cure.
"It's a horrible thing to have happen to a child," said epidemiologist Mark Springer.
At least 89 people in 33 states have been diagnosed with the debilitating syndrome this year.
"There's been no link, whether that's geography or close contact or known association," Springer said.
Children are especially vulnerable. The Spokane boy who contracted AFM is 10 years old.
"Because this is early on in the illness, we don't know how long it's going to take for him to get back to normal function or if he will return completely to normal function," Springer said.
AFM causes inflammation of the spinal cord, esulting in limb weakness, even paralysis.
Scientists at the CDC know viral infections, autoimmune illnesses and enviornmental toxins can contribute to AFM's onset.
AFM is not contagious and health officials say it's not associated with vaccines.
The syndrome first came to light in 2014... Since then, the CDC has been investigating and many more health care providers are paying attention...
Still, AFM is rare, affecting one in one million people.
"There's not something that can be done to minimize that risk because, again, we don't fully understand the causes of this," Springer said.
With no known cause, health officials can only recommend generic health precautions, such as getting a flu shot.
It might not have any impact on AFM, but at the very least you'll minimize the risk of your child getting sick.
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