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Polio-like illness reported in Illinois

Cases of a polio-like illness, known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) which affects the nervous system specifically the spinal cord, have been reported in northern Illinois among children, according to The Illinois Department of Public Health.

IDPH is working with health care providers and the CDC to find out more about the illness.  The recent cases reported in Illinois have been children, but it can affect adults according to the CDC.

Illinois has monitored the syndrome since 2014 when it was first described by CDC, according to IDPH. Since 2015, four cases reviewed by CDC experts have been counted in Illinois.

Infectious Disease Supervisor John Campos with the Adams County Health Department, says there are no reported cases of the polio-like illness in Adams County.

“You just take steps to protect yourself and a lot of things people we’re already doing, we’re are getting immunization, like polio vaccine which most children start when they are two years old, it is believed that a virus like polio or something vary similar could be one of the root causes,” Campos

Campos says if someone was concerned about having AFM there would be an investigation.

“An investigation for this would be more on the lines of data collection. We would go in try and find out what the symptoms are and particularly collect specimens and have that sent to the CDC for further testing,” Campos said.

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

According to IPDH, it is unclear if it is effective in preventing AFM, steps you can take to help stay healthy include:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water
  • avoiding close contact with sick people
  • cleaning surfaces with a disinfectant, especially surfaces that a sick person has touched
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