Disease that Presents Polio-Like Symptoms Reported in Minnesota, MDH Says

October 08, 2018 01:45 PM

There have been a number of reports to the Minnesota Department of Health in the last few weeks regarding an infectious virus that presents polio-like symptoms.

According to the MDH, there have been a total of six reports of pediatric acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) since Sept. 20. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there have been 38 confirmed cases of AFM nationwide in 2018. 

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The CDC symptoms can be similar to polio, non-polio enterovirus and West Nile virus. 

Symptoms of AFM include: 

  • Weakness and loss of muscle tone
  • Facial droop or weakness 
  • Difficulty moving the eyes
  • Difficulty swallowing and slurred speech

MDH said all cases reported since September have required hospitalization. 

Quinton Hill is one of the children diagnosed with AFM.

"He started just complaining of just really bad neck stiffness," his father James Hill said. "He couldn't move his neck and then his left arm. We thought it was a dead arm. Like he was laying on it so we didn't think much of it at first. But a couple hours into not being able to move his arm we got concerned."

A visit to their family doctor didn't change things. He was eventually admitted to Children's Hospital, where in a two-week span, he endured blood tests, a misdiagnosis and three MRIs.

After all of that, he finally got his diagnosis.

Quinton's symptoms are not as severe as some of the other children who were sickened.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS health expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou said the first time the U.S. saw an outbreak of AFM was 2014.

"We think it might be a virus but we're not sure what causes it," she said. "It could be a virus, it could be an environmental toxin, could be genetic, could be a combination of all three we just don't know."

Right now there are no known treatments for AFM.

*Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said eight cases were reported in Minnesota. That is inaccurate. There have been six reported cases, according to the health department. The story has been updated to reflect this change. 



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