Health officials: 3 cases of rare polio-like illness in Georgia

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Georgia officials report three cases of a rare polio-like illness in young children, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn cases have spiked nationwide.

Of the 127 reported cases in 2018, federal officials said 62 have been confirmed as acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

Ninety percent of patients are children. The CDC said the average age of patients nationwide is four years old. The three children affected in Georgia are also in that age range, state officials said. 

The rare illness affects the nervous system and spinal cord, causing muscle-weakness and reflexes in the body to weaken.

Doctors with the CDC said, though the rise of cases is concerning and the illness alarming, the risk of contraction is less than one in a million. 

SEE ALSO: 3 North Texas kids contract rare polio-like disease

This week, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed its third case and said its reviewing two more similar cases.

The CDC says AFM’s cause can vary from a virus to environmental toxins to genetic disorders. Treatments may vary from case to case.

SEE ALSO: 2-year-old girl being treated in Chicago for paralyzing polio-like virus

Parents are advised to remind children to practice proper hygiene, such as washing hands, covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, staying home when sick, and making sure their child is up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Symptoms of AFM include neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop, and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

SEE ALSO: 6 cases of rare polio-like illness confirmed in Minnesota

As with any illness, parents should take their child into a doctor for treatment.

Earlier this month, 6 cases were reported in Minnesota, 3 in North Texas, and one in Chicago.

RELATED: What is AFM? Health officials, parents describe the rare virus