The Washington State Department of Health has confirmed, as of Friday, that 8 of the 9 reported cases with symptoms matching the neurological disorder AFM (Acute Flaccid Myelitis) are in in fact that disease.

Officials with the Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have confirmed 8 of the children, between the ages of 3 and 14, have the illness.  It attacks the nervous system, and is characterized by loss of muscle tone and control in one or both arms, or perhaps a leg. Additional symptoms include difficulty in controlling the head and eyes, and loss of muscle tone in other areas.

The disease is considered rare, but some 50 cases in 24 states are now being tracked by the CDC. Of the 9 in Washington state, 2 are from Franklin County. One Western Washington child died from what is believed to be AFM.

The DOH and CDC said the children in question did not acquire AFM at the Children's Hospital in Seattle, but arrived with AFM symptoms already in place.

The exact cause of AFM, which can do considerable damage to the nervous system, are not known. It could be related to poliovirus or other non-poliovirus illnesses such as Zeka and West Nile, but very little is known about any possible correlation. The investigations and work continue.


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