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INDIANAPOLIS – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning parents of a rare condition called Acute Flaccid Myelitis. Doctors say the symptoms in children resemble Polio, also saying it can sometimes cause paralysis.

The good news is Indiana has had zero confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), but doctors are concerned about the clusters popping up around the country.

There have been 62 cases in 22 states confirmed so far this year. The disease ultimately affects children’s spine and neurological system but the symptoms are more like the flu.

AFM starts out as a cough, headache, fever and respiratory infection, later children show signs of weakness in their arms or legs that’s when parents start to get concerned. According to Dr. John Christenson, he says the illness can be tough for parents to catch because these early signs are usually similar to cold/flu symptoms.

“The best thing to do is proper hand washing,” said Dr. Christenson. “This virus is transmitted through the respiratory tract, so respiratory secretions. So if you have people with a cough and fever, they should do everything they can to stay away from other children, especially if they’re healthy. Good hand washing if there’s a family member with it.”

At this point, there is no prevention or cure.

Dr. Christenson says doctors don’t fully understand the long-term consequences of the illness either but with rehab, many do recover fully. An outbreak like this is common every two years or so but the numbers are much higher than what we used to see with this. No cases in Indiana but clusters of about 30 have been found in New York, Colorado and other states.

Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now.  Doctors say to go get medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms and legs. Prevention includes staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands and using mosquito repellant.

(Photo by anyaberkut/Thinkstock.)