Spokane child diagnosed with rare syndrome

SPOKANE, Wash - A boy from Spokane is the latest child in Washington to be diagnosed with a rare neurological syndrome called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM.

The Spokane Regional Health District says the boy is under the age of 10.

AFM has no specific cause and, while considered extremely rare, has sickened several children in Washington this year. It is not contagious and experts believe there is no connection between this case and the others in the state.

"We wish we had specific recommendations for families who are concerned about this devastating syndrome, but there is not enough known about its causes," said Dr. Sam Artzis, interim health officer for the Spokane Regional Health District.

The conditions affects the spinal cord and symptoms typically include weakness in one more arms or legs, accompanied by loss of muscle tone and decreased or absent reflexes.

"Some children with AFM recover," said Dr. Artzis. "But, unfortunately, many do not. Obviously, our hearts are with this family."

The SRHD says that, even with an increase in AFM cases in Washington this year, it's still very rare and affects less than one in 1 million people.