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Confirmed cases of polio-like illness affecting children grows but CDC expects a decline

PHOTO: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The number of confirmed cases of a polio-like illness affecting mostly children continues to rise but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes there are some positive signs the outbreak has hit it's peak.

Based on the latest update released by the agency on Monday, there have now been 134 confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) in 33 states. That's an increase of 18 cases and two more states compared to the previous week.

The total number of cases reported -including those confirmed- grew from 286 last week to 299 this week.

Acute flaccid myelitis first starts as a fever and/or respiratory illness three to ten days before the patient's limbs get weak. Something in the body -which researchers are still trying to figure out- then triggers AFM to affect the nervous system, leading to weak limbs and possible paralysis.

Since 2014, over 90% of patients reported a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM. Over 90% of the cases have been children.

Researchers say the outbreak appears to be an every-other-year occurrence. Since 2014, even years have seen no less than 120 confirmed cases, with 2015 and 2017 seeing no more than 35 cases.

The CDC states historically, most cases are reported in October and November with numbers declining come December. That appears to be the case currently as fewer reports of persons under investigation for the illness are being reported compared to previous weeks. The CDC expects the decline to continue, meaning the outbreak has likely hit it's peak.

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