Alabama Department of Public Health officials say three possible cases of acute flaccid myelitis in Alabama are being investigated.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigate 127 suspected cases of the disease nationwide. AFM affects the nervous system, especially the spinal cord, which weakens muscles and reflexes in the body. The disease often leads to paralysis, which causes the comparison with polio, the once dreaded disease that was virtually wiped out by vaccines.
It is a rare disease, but the CDC recorded an increase in reported cases, which started in 201
ADPH epidemiologist Amanda Ingram told AL.com that the CDC was testing samples from Alabama patients. The CDC will determine if the samples are positive for AFM.
The cases were reported by hospitals in Birmingham a Mobile. However, information about where the patients live was not available.
"The problem with AFM is that there is no clear indication of what causes it," Ingram told AL.com. "It's caused by a virus, but I do not know what the virus is."
CDC confirms 62 cases of polio-like disease; reported in 22 states
Previously, AFM was linked to enterovirus, which began in Colorado, she said.
Symptoms include sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Some people will also experience facial atrophy or weakness, difficulty moving their eyes, hanging eyelids or difficulty swallowing or speaking. Parents are advised to seek medical attention immediately if a child develops any of these symptoms.
ADPH urges people to practice proper hand washing and to avoid going public when you are ill.