9 Children Sickened With Polio-Like Illness: IL Health Officials

ILLINOIS — Days after a suburban family shared the story of 2-year-old Julia Payne’s battle with a rare, polio-like illness, the Illinois Department of Public Health said there are nine “clinically diagnosed” cases — all children — of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in northern Illinois. IDPH said it is working with the health care providers to collect necessary information to send to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which will make the final determination on AFM classifications.

While it said all nine cases have been diagnosed in individuals younger than age 18, IDPH did not provide specific information on the ages or locations of the patients. A total of 38 AFM confirmed cases have been confirmed in 16 states, according to the CDC.

In late September, the Payne family of Batavia shared the story of daughter Julia, 2, who was diagnosed with AFM, a rare condition that affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Julia was admitted to Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago in mid-September and has since undergone a tracheotomy and plasmapheresis, a treatment that cleanses blood plasma. Her family said the next step in her recovery is rehab to help her regain strength and movement in her arms and neck. An 8-year-old girl from northwest Indiana was also being treated for the rare illness.

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The nine Illinois cases mark a sharp spike in incidents of the illness. Prior to the recent confirmed cases, only four Illinois AFM cases had been reported by the CDC since 2015.

AFM can have a variety of causes, including viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, according to IDPH. The viruses can include:

“Much is still unknown about AFM and often, a cause for AFM cannot be identified,” IDPH said Wednesday, adding that symptoms can include:

“If you or your child develops any of these symptoms, you should seek medical care right away,” IDPH said.

Health officials advised residents to take these steps to stay healthy but acnowleged that it is unknown if they can help prevent the spread of AFM:

Image of Julia Payne via GoFundMe, a Patch promotional partner.

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