3 cases of ‘mysterious’, polio-like condition investigated in Alabama

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- It's being called a mystery illness and being compared to polio.

Over the past four years, the Centers for Disease Control have seen a rise in Acute Flaccid Myelitis, also known as AFM. The neurological condition causes paralysis and weakness in limbs and is mostly diagnosed in children.

The CDC released a report earlier this week saying 62 cases have been confirmed so far this year. 127 cases have been investigated overall across the country, and 3 of those cases are in Alabama.

The numbers of reported and confirmed cases began to rise in 2014. It has earned the title of 'mysterious' because CDC officials don't know what causes the condition or why they began seeing more cases four years ago.

Orville Young in Minnesota...

"And the results come back and he had an abnormality through his entire spinal cord," his mother Elaine Young said.

Preslee Holcombe in South Carolina...

"We're already starting to think about will she be able to drive, will she ever be able to play soccer again," her mother Elizabeth Holcombe said.

And Gracie Fisher in Colorado...

"So I began to feel a tingling in my hands and pain in my neck and within five minutes I couldn't walk," she said.

Symptoms have been most similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including polio-virus, non-polio enteroviruses and West Nile Virus. Since August 2014, the CDC has confirmed 386 cases, mostly in children.

"There are currently 3 cases under investigation and we don't have any conclusive information at this time," Dr. Burnestine Taylor with the Alabama Department of Public Health said.

It will take an MRI to confirm if the patients have AFM.

"There are some abnormal changes in the spine that have been identified with other patients and you would need that evidence to actually have a confirmed case," Dr. Taylor said. "What the physician will do is rule out other causes rule out other things that might be causing it."

Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health don't know when the cases were originally reported. However, they want to stress how rare this condition is. A person's chance of getting AFM is approximately 1 in a million. For more information about AFM visit the CDC.gov