Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a task force on Monday to investigate the recent surge in AFM, a polio-like disease that causes paralysis in children.
The Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) Task Force will pull together experts from the scientific, medical and public health fields to help solve this critical public health issue gain more insight on the mystery disease.
So far, the CDC has confirmed 106 cases, up from 90 last week, of AFM across 29 states this year, predominately in children.
"I want to reaffirm to parents, patients, and our Nation CDC's commitment to this serious medical condition," CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, said in a statement. "This Task Force will ensure that the full capacity of the scientific community is engaged and working together to provide important answers and solutions to actively detect, more effectively treat, and ultimately prevent AFM and its consequences."
The task force will pass along its first report to the CDC on Dec. 6.
Along with paralysis, AFM can cause respiratory illnesses, spinal cord disruption and limb weakness in one or more limbs. Experts still don't know what causes the disease.
The CDC said that most of the victims are between ages 2 and 8, and about half of them are male.
"These results, combined with present and future corroborating evidence, could inform clinical practice around helping adolescents reduce sugar-sweetened beverage intake, have important implications for messaging in public health campaigns, and inform the need for efforts to reduce sugar-sweetened-beverage advertising to youth and those drinks' availability in and around schools," the report concluded.