Doctors are learning more about Acute Flaccid Myelitis, a rare illness that appears to spike every other year according to the Center for Disease Control.
There have been eight people diagnosed with the illness in Texas. One of them is 5-year-old Elizabeth Storrie, who is currently recovering from AFM at Cook Children's Hospital in north Texas.
Storrie’s parents said Elizabeth’s face was drooping, she experienced neck pain and couldn’t sit-up.
"That's the most terrifying moment for any parent,” Elizabeth’s mother Heather Storrie said. "To suddenly hear your perfectly health girl was potentially never going to walk again and never breathe on her own again on her own again was devastating.”
Elizabeth’s doctors said she is improving. The CDC reports people diagnose with the illness recovered quickly or have paralysis and require ongoing care.
Dr. Matthew Robinson, Infectious Disease Physician for St, David’s South Austin Medical Center said AFM is not contagious but are associated with a variety of viruses like West Nile. Patients often experience Polio like symptoms.
"It's a neurologic condition where the spinal cord becomes inflamed and someone develops usually a weakness in the body sometimes it can affect other parts of the body but it's sudden onset," Dr. Robinson said. "We still have quite a bit to learn whether it's always caused by a viral infection, how we can prevent it how we can predict it."
Dr. Robinson advises people to wash their hands, keep their kids up to date on vaccinations and protect themselves from mosquitoes. The CDC has been actively tracking AFM cases since 2014 when they began to see an increase. Less than a million people in the U.S are diagnosed with it a year.