20, the CDC had confirmed 38 cases in 16 states, which aren't required to report AFM cases to the CDC.
USA health officials on Tuesday reported a jump in cases of a rare paralyzing illness in children, and said it seems to be following an every-other-year pattern.
In addition to viruses, potential causes may include environmental toxins and genetic disorders, according to the CDC, and it "can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases".
The cases in 2014 and 2016 were partly attributed to particular strains of respiratory germs called enteroviruses, which spread the most in the summer and fall. The rare but serious disorder affects a person's nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. A seventh case has been "clinically diagnosed", but remains under review by the CDC. In some cases, patients recover quickly. She noted the confirmed cases are in 22 states. "Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now".
There is no specific treatment for AFM, according to the CDC, although neurologists might recommend things like physical therapy to help treat muscle weakness on a case-by-case basis.
"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.
Quinton Hill, 7, of Lakeville, Minn., lost movement in one arm last month due to a mysterious syndrome known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).
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The Douglas County Health Department's Phil Rooney said, "This is not a diagnosis like flu or other diseases where you can do blood draw fluids". PHAC is monitoring CDC updates, however, "We haven't found anything in Canada yet", said Dr. Tim Booth, director of the viral diseases division of Canada's National Microbiology Lab.
The CDC says to be on the lookout for the onset of arm or leg weakness, and loss of muscle tone and reflexes.
For example, the CDC doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or why some are at higher risk, she said. "We don't fully understand the long-term consequences of AFM". Some patients have tested positive for enterovirus or rhinovirus.
The CDC says this is still a rare condition that affects less than one in 1 million people per year. To date, no pathogen has been consistently detected in AFM patients.
What's the prognosis for someone diagnosed with AFM?
All of the worries about AFM just give parents and grandparents one more thing to worry about.