Five children in Puget Sound may have nervous system disorder

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — State and local health officials are investigating whether five children hospitalized with sudden limb paralysis may have a rare condition that affects the nervous system.

The condition is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, which attacks the nervous system, particularly the spinal cord, and can lead to arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle reflexes.

The Washington Department of Heath said Wednesday that the children are 6 or younger. They had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week before developing symptoms of AFM.

The children live in King, Pierce, Lewis and Snohomish counties.

Specialists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control will confirm the diagnoses. The CDC says the condition is not new but there’s been an increase in cases starting in 2014.

For the first nine months of this year, 38 people in 16 states have been confirmed to have AFM.