At least 2 cases of rare, polio-like illness reported in Houston region

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor
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HOUSTON - At least two cases of a polio-like illness have been reported in Southeast Texas this year.

According to data obtained Thursday from the Texas Department of State Health Services, one case of acute flaccid myelitis has been reported in Harris County and another case has been reported in Galveston County.

AFM is a virus that affects the nervous system. It causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to weaken, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many people compare the disease to polio because it can cause problems that are very similar to the poliovirus. 

Symptoms of AFM include weakness of the arms or legs, facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.

The condition is rare, with only 1 in 1 million people in the United States contracting the disease, according to the CDC. However, there has been a spike in cases since 2014 and most of those infected have been children.

According to the CDC, other viruses like poliovirus and West Nile may sometimes lead to AFM.
While there is no cure for the virus, neurologists can recommend treatments.

State health officials said that AFM is not a disease that is required to be reported, so the number of cases is based on those who have voluntarily reported it. 

Most of the eight cases of the illness reported in Texas are in the northern part of the state. However, officials said, there are several other possible cases being investigated, and it takes about a month to go through the CDC evaluation process.

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