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Man diagnosed with mysterious polio-like illness

(WISN) — Adam and Bridget Spoerri had the July wedding they imagined, but their honeymoon ended with both of them coming down with a cold.

Bridget got better, but Adam’s condition worsened and within a week he started showing signs of paralysis and suddenly couldn’t breathe. Doctors later diagnosed him with Acute Flaccid Myelitis — AFM — a mysterious polio-like illness that mostly affects children.

He’s the only adult in Wisconsin to have come down with the illness that as of Sunday affected 89 others in 27 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“AFM is really rare, but it’s still something that you should know to look out for, so if kids or adults are experiencing weakness after a cold symptom, they should go get checked out by a doctor because it’s not normal to not be able to lift a limb just because you’ve had a cold,” Bridget Spoerri said as she sat at her husband’s bedside at Post Acute Medical Specialty Hospital in Greenfield.


Adam Spoerri is making progress, but it’s been painfully slow. He can walk and is regaining some arm movement, but his breathing remains labored nearly four months after coming down with AFM.

The average age of the patients in all confirmed cases over the past five years is just 4 years old, and more than 90% of the cases overall occur in children 18 and younger, according to analysis of cases reported in recent years. Though AFM has not claimed any lives this year, there was one death in 2017.

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