8 of 9 Washington children with 'mystery illness' confirmed to have rare AFM condition, health officials say

SEATTLE -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that 8 of the 9 Washington children that had a "mystery illness" at Seattle Children's Hospital have acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, a rare neurological condition, the Washington State Department of Health said Friday.

The children with AFM arrived at Seattle Children’s Hospital with their symptoms and did not acquire AFM at the hospital, the state health department said.

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AFM is a rare condition that can be caused by many different things; it affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Symptoms typically include sudden weakness in one or more arms or legs, along with loss of muscle tone and decreased or absent reflexes.

Scientists at CDC are working to determine the exact cause of AFM. Many viruses and germs are linked to AFM, including common germs that can cause colds and sore throats, and respiratory infections. It can also be caused by poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses, mosquito-borne viruses (such as West Nile Virus or Zika virus) and autoimmune conditions, the health department said.

For more information on AFM, visit the CDC website.  A fact sheet about this investigation is on the Department of Health’s website.