AFM disease: 2 Chicago area children being treated for rare polio-like illness

CHICAGO -- A rare polio-like illness is impacting children across the country, including two being treated at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.

Acute Flaccid myelitis, or AFM, mimics cold or flu symptoms at first, then becomes much more serious.

Julia Payne, 2, from Batavia has been fighting AFM for almost a month. It's a condition that affects the spinal cord. Most patients who get it have a sudden onset of limb weakness and experience paralysis.

Julia's parents said she will begin rehab Tuesday, but her fight is far from over.

"It's really just a common cold virus and it attacked Julia's body and spinal cord a certain way, and it seems to be happening to other kids too," said Julia's dad, Josh Payne.

"Statistically it's a small amount but I mean, it happened to us. So we just want to help any other family out there that could be affected," Julia's mom Katie Payne said.

Doctors at Lurie said parents need to watch out for symptoms such as the sudden onset of arm and leg weakness, difficulty swallowing and sometimes slurring of the speech.

A father from Chesterton, Ind. said his 8-year-old daughter also has AFM.

There are at least 38 confirmed cases in 16 states.
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