NEWARK — The number of reported cases of a Polio-like condition called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) has increased in the United States, officials said Wednesday.

The CDC reported there are 116 confirmed cases of AFM in 31 states including six in New Jersey.

AFM is a rare condition that affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. AFM or neurologic conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders. It affects mostly children, according to the CDC.

The state Department of Health said it has no indication that the cases here are linked to each other or other states.

"The Department has joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) effort to enhance surveillance for Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), requesting that clinicians voluntarily report suspect cases to us," state Health Department spokeswoman Dawn Thomas said. "We have asked that they remain vigilant for suspect cases of AFM and to report them to the Department. We have worked with healthcare providers who have reported suspect cases to us and are working closely with CDC to investigate these reports."

Thomas said surveillance has shown that AFM cases generally peak in the months of September and October. The cause of most AFM cases remains unknown.

The CDC said that the patients’ symptoms have been most similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, and West Nile virus. They include a sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes.

Some people will experience:

  • facial droop/weakness
  • difficulty moving the eyes
  • drooping eyelids
  • difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.

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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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