New treatment gives hope for kids with polio-like illness

Cases of a mysterious illness that's leaving children paralyzed have nearly doubled in the last month.

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A total of 116 cases have been confirmed across the country, including three in Georgia.

It's called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. The illness starts off like the common cold and then leads to polio-like symptoms, including partial paralysis.

But now doctors are seeing new hope when it comes to restoring mobility. They’re trying out a surgical procedure that move healthy nerves.

They just performed the microsurgery on an 8-year-old who first had a sinus infection and then lost strength in his left arm.

"Tahi had a droopy face, he lost his core strength, so he was unable to sit up without assistance," said the boy’s mother,” Trisha Toya.

Doctors are trying out the surgical procedure that moves healthy nerves.

What we're doing is microsurgery and disconnecting from one muscle and tunneling it to a new target,” said Dr. Mitchel Seruya of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

Doctors said timing for this surgery is critical because it must be done within the first 18 months of diagnosis.

There is no cure for AFM. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a task force last week to investigate causes of the disease as well as possible treatments.

Even with the rise in cases, according to the CDC, “less than one to two in a million children in the United States will get AFM every year.”

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