What You Need to Know About AFM
As of November 2018, federal health officials have confirmed over 100 cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in the United States―a very rare but serious illness that can cause sudden polio-like symptoms such as weak muscles and paralysis. Most of these cases have been in children around 4 years old.
The spike in the number of 2018 cases of AFM is similar to those in 2016 and 2014. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating all suspected cases of AFM. A common thread linking the cases has not been found.
While this sounds frightening, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reminds parents that AFM is very rare. The chances of a child getting it are less than one in a million.
What parents can do:
The best thing you can do to protect your children from getting sick is to keep up with what you are already doing:
Keeping your children home from
or school when they are sick
Talk with your pediatrician if you are concerned about your child's health. Seek immediate medical care if your child has sudden weakness, loss of muscle tone, a droopy face, or difficulty swallowing or speaking.
What causes acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)?
There is a lot still unknown about the causes of AFM, leading many to refer to it as a "mystery illness."
In 2014, there was an rise in AFM cases during an
(EV-D68) outbreak. However, not all AFM patients had the enterovirus virus.
Other viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders are also potential causes of AFM.