State health officials investigating 5th suspected case of polio-like disease

BOSTON (WHDH) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says that state officials are investigating the fifth suspected case of acute flaccid myelitis, which is described as a polio-like disease.

The odds of getting the disease is less than one in a million, but there have been two confirmed cases in the Bay State.

The rare disease affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis, mainly in children.

Symptoms of AFM include sudden limb weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial and eyelid drooping, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most severe symptom is breathing trouble.

There is no specific treatment for AFM.

At least 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states this year, and at least 65 additional illnesses in those states are being investigated, according to the CDC.

Officials say they haven’t found the cause. Some possible suspects, such as polio and West Nile virus, have been ruled out. Another kind of virus is suspected, but it’s been found in only some of the cases.

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