10 children diagnosed with rare polio-like disease in northern Illinois


The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued a warning after receiving reports of a severe, polio-like illness detected in 10 children in northern Illinois.

Accute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a serious neurological condition which affects a person’s immune system, specifically the spinal cord.

The condition springs from a variety of causes which can include enteroviruses (polio and non-polio), West Nile virus, and adenoviruses.

Symptoms can include: sudden onset of limb weakness and loss of muscle tone, facial droop, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

The IDPH says it is working with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to review information from each diagnosis.

The IDPH confirms that the cases are from individuals younger than 18 years age in northern Illinois, but specific location information was not given.

In September, IDPH issued an alert to health care providers about AFM, including information about reporting this clinical syndrome and submitting specimens. Illinois has monitored this syndrome since 2014 when it was first described by CDC. Since 2015, four cases reviewed by CDC experts have been counted in Illinois. IDPH continues to work closely with the CDC to monitor reports of AFM. 

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