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Batavia girl, 2, being treated for rare polio-like disease — among dozen of cases this year in U.S.

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 10/10/2018 WGN-TV

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A 2-year-old girl from Batavia is facing a long, difficult recovery after contracting a rare polio-like disease that has been reported in children across the United States.

Julia Payne’s symptoms at first resembled those of a common cold, according to her parents Josh and Katie Payne. She was later diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis and has been undergoing treatment for the last month at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

AFM is an extremely rare but serious condition that has been compared with polio because it, too, can lead to paralysis and, in some cases, death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no cure and the exact cause is uncertain.

Since the CDC began tracking AFM in 2014, 362 cases have been reported in the United States, 38 of them reported across 16 states this year. The Minnesota Department of Health put out an alert last week, stating that six cases have been reported in children across the state over the past several weeks.

For reasons not fully understood, AFM affects mainly children. All the recent Minnesota cases have been in children under 10 years old and all were hospitalized.

Like others fighting AFM, Julia needs a respirator to keep her lungs pumping and she can’t swallow. She is being fed intravenously. Her pediatric intensive care doctor says the road to recovery will be a long one with much physical therapy.

Katie Payne said she and her husband are sharing their story "to spread awareness of this crazy, rare, scary disease."

"We want reearch. We want what happened to Julia not to happen to anyone else," she said.

There was a national uptick in AFM cases in 2014. Disease investigators believe this was linked to an outbreak of a respiratory illness in children that was caused by a virus known as enterovirus D 68.

The CDC states that AFM targets the spinal cord, which can lead to weakness in the muscles. Symptoms can include facial-muscle weakness, seen as droopiness; issues moving the eyes or droopy eyelids; issues swallowing; or slurred speech.

In rare cases, the CDC stated, it can cause numbness, tingling and pain in the extremities, problems urinating, paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.

The Washington Post contributed

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