Acute Flaccid Myelitis - What Is It?

Dr. Adam Kassam emphasized that AFM is very uncommon

Dr. Adam Kassam emphasized that AFM is very uncommon

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported October 22 that there are 155 patients under investigation this year for acute flaccid myelitis, a condition that that can cause paralysis and mostly affects children. So far in 2018, there have been 62 confirmed cases in 22 states nationwide.

Children under the age of four have seen the most recent onsets ailment, but cases of AFM in children as old as 18 have also been reported.

State officials say it will be several weeks before testing from the Centers for Disease Control will be able to confirm the cases are AFM.

AFM affects the spinal cord and can cause weakness of the arms and legs, as well as neurological damage.

The CDC reports the odds of contracting AFM are less than one in a million.

The CDC first identified AFM cases in the U.S.in 2014. That is roughly 50 percent more than have already been confirmed.

"I feel like the CDC specifically, and our Departments of Health, need to go back, and look at these cases from before", Young said.

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Doctors and researchers don't know how or why AFM shows up in children or why cases occur in the late summer and fall. "With AFM you don't get that recovery". He focuses on pediatric infectious disease, and says children could be more at risk because they have a weaker immune system.

The CDC has a hunch that AFM can be caused by other viruses like enterovirus or west nile virus. While most viral infections are mild and self-limited, some people are more seriously affected, either because of environmental factors, genetic susceptibility, or just plain bad luck.

Shah says the best thing parents can do is to "continue being good parents".

Rohde said that doctors have been treating the signs or symptoms which appear to start out like a respiratory illness, with cough, runny nose and fever.

In very rare cases, it is possible that the process in the body that triggers AFM may also trigger other serious neurologic complications that could lead to death.

Sutfin says parents should protect their children against mosquito bites, and make sure they are up to date on their vaccines, as well as encourage frequent handwashing.

"You should seek medical care right away if you or your child develops any of these symptoms".

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