2-year-old being treated for rare polio-like disease in Chicago

CHICAGO – A young girl is recovering at a Chicago hospital after she was diagnosed with a rare polio-like disease.

At first, 2-year-old Julia Payne’s symptoms resembled those of a common cold. However, she was later diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. She is now being treated at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Cases of AFM start popping up across the country in late summer and early fall in small numbers. The condition affects the body’s nervous system, targets the spinal cord and could lead to paralysis and possibly death.

Like others fighting AFM, Julia now needs a respirator to keep her lungs pumping and she can’t swallow. She is being fed intravenously. Her mother said it has been a really difficult time.

Her pediatric intensive care doctor has been treating her for weeks now, and the road to recovery will be a long one with lots of physical therapy. There is currently no cure for AFM and the exact cause is uncertain.

Katie Payne, the child’s mother, said her faith is what’s keeping them going, and said she’s sharing this story to help spread the word about the illness.

Julia is among dozens of children in several states being treated for the same potentially deadly illness. Six children in Minnesota have been diagnosed with the disease since mid-September, according to state health officials.