Acute flaccid myelitis is spreading in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, North Texas, Colorado

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Five children under 6 have been hospitalized with a sudden limb paralysis that has local, state and national health officials investigating whether it's a serious but rare condition called AFM.

AFM affects the nervous system, specifically, the central region of the spinal cord which is filled with grey matter-a type of nerve cell. One possible way it can develop is from viral infections. In severe cases, AFM can lead to paralysis and even death. "It's incredibly heartbreaking to see this".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the condition is not new but a recent influx of cases in 2014 (mostly in California and Colorado) had been linked to the spread of an enterovirus known as EVD68.

In her letter, Ms. Klobuchar asked Dr. Redfield to accelerate the CDC's response and investigation of the spike in AFM cases.

On Tuesday, the health authorities said three children suspected to have AFM were being treated at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

"It seems that there are specific strains of enterovirus that may be more likely to cause acute flaccid myelitis in a small percentage of children that have it", says Dr. Eric Robinette, pediatric infectious disease physician at Akron Children's Hospital.

Investigators are still collecting data on the two unconfirmed cases in Minnesota, which involved children under the age of 10 who displayed symptoms in the summer, Griffith said.

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The CDC estimates that fewer than one in a million people will get the rare condition each year. Nationwide, the CDC has confirmed 362 AFM cases between August 2014 and August 2018.

Minnesota officials said they typically see one case of AFM per year.

Quinton has lost a lot of the strength in his left arm, along with some weakness in his legs and neck.

After several tests, doctors were only able to find a diagnosis after a second MRI, finding abnormality throughout his entire spinal cord. These include washing hands frequently to limit exposure to germs, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing and staying home when feeling sick.

Doctors stress the importance of recognizing the early signs of AFM and seeking care as soon as possible. He added that the CDC is working hard on national and global fronts to look for a common cause.

Nearly any viral infection can cause neurological symptoms, although it's extremely unusual, so the CDC says it is also important to be fully up to date on vaccinations.