AFM: What you need to know about acute flaccid myelitis

13 October, 2018, 14:26 | Author: Kara Nash
  • 6 Minnesota kids diagnosed with rare, polio-like disease

Five children under the age of 6 in the state have been hospitalized with a sudden limb paralysis that has the Washington State Department of Health, four local public-health agencies and neurologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working to determine if they are cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

DSHS said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not know the cause of AFM or how it's contracted, but said there is a trend of spikes every other year. The condition can cause the sudden paralysis of limbs by affecting the spinal cord.

A little girl diagnosed with the illness has been in the hospital since September 5th.

"The CDC has indicated there might be some increases in cases, and in mid-September we advised health care providers to be vigilant and report to the health department so that we can pass on the information to the CDC", Arnold said. But Olga was anxious, so they took 7-month-old Zoe to the emergency room at Children's Hospital in Seattle.

Two cases were reported in King County.

The CDC's website explains, "A doctor can tell the difference between AFM and other diseases with a careful examination of the nervous system, looking at the location of the weakness, muscle tone and reflexes".


In Chicago, doctors say Julia Payne had an enterovirus that caused the AFM.

The disease, health officials say, is hard to positively confirm by anyone other than a few specially trained neurologists. However, the patients can regain functionality of the muscles through physical therapy.

Because of AFM's possible roots in polio, doctors and medical health professionals are urging parents to stay up-to-date on their children's vaccinations.

"We do not yet know the long-term effects of AFM", a CDC report said. It can also be caused by poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses, mosquito-borne viruses (such as West Nile virus or Zika virus) and possibly by non-infectious conditions. "That enterovirus is transmittable from person to person, but you can't actually catch AFM from somebody else".

"There are cases of good recovery and good potential for good healing", said Sinner.

The CDC reported 362 total cases from August 2014 to August 2018 with a major rise in cases reported in 2016 across 39 states. Practices such as regular hand-washing are recommended. One case was reported earlier this year.

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