GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A rare polio-like syndrome may be in West Michigan. There are 155 cases reported across the country and now a possible case has been reported in Ottawa County in a child.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now working to confirm. The state’s health department is investigating four possible cases in Michigan.
Three kids and one adult male, located In Ottawa, Ingham, Macomb and Oakland counties.
Acute flaccid myelitis is described as polio-like because it causes a similar weakness in the arms and legs. The symptoms develop quickly. It’s rare, but serious.
“Nobody has been able to identify the cause yet, although it is still suspected that it may be a virus that we just don’t know about yet,” said the chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Eden Wells.
According to the CDC, AFM affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs.
There could be a variety of causes, such as viruses and environmental toxins. The symptoms have a sudden onset and include:
- muscle weakness in the arms or legs
- drooping eyelids
- difficulty swallowing
- slurred speech
Wells said the syndrome isn’t new to Michigan and started to show up in 2014, and a couple of cases have been reported over the past four years. In the last four weeks, four more cases have popped up.
AFM is not known to be contagious and so far it hasn’t been fatal. For some reason, it pops up in the fall. Why some people get it and others don’t is still unknown.
“We haven’t been able to identify a group of people or people with any certain underlying conditions that are at more risk than others,” said Wells.
The best way to avoid getting it, is to wash your hands, get your vaccines, protect yourself against mosquitoes and get enough sleep.