Acute Flaccid Myelitis: A mystery disease, this time in the US

28 October, 2018, 07:43 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Dr. Adam Kassam emphasized that AFM is very uncommon

The CDC reports that between August 2014 to September 2018, 386 cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been confirmed in the United States, making the sudden recent spike more worrying.

Acute flaccid myelitis, also called AFM, is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system. In 2014, a wave of cases of acute flaccid myelitis coincided with outbreaks of EV-D68 across the country.But the CDC says it has not consistently found EV-D68 in confirmed cases since then.

State health departments have reported an increase in confirmed AFM cases in the past few months.

"We don't know what caused the increase in AFM cases starting in 2014", the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. Most of the cases involve children, and while the CDC says it doesn't know the cause of a lot of them, it is urging parents to practice disease-prevention steps, such as ensuring their children are up to date on vaccines, washing their hands, and protected from mosquito bites.

Symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis usually include the sudden onset of weakness in the arms and/or legs or decreased or absent reflexes in the limbs.

"Until you actually identify the virus or whatever microbial agent it is with a laboratory confirmation test you can not be 100 percent certain", he said.

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Every AFM patient has tested negative for the polio virus, and no pathogen has been consistently detected in the patients' spinal fluid. However, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says that it is now hard to interpret AFM trends as data collection is new and mostly voluntary.

"I think it is worrisome especially when we're not sure what's causing it", Dr. Bhargava says.

Whether the paralysis is ongoing depends on the patient, the CDC stated, because some have recovered quickly while others required continued care.

"It's likely to be caused by viruses sometimes it's kind of a subsequent thing after a virus". "You can see enterovirus particles in the motor neurons."It's not proof, Tyler said". The CDC is also exploring environmental toxins or genetic factors as a possibility.

Bhargava says parents should aware of the symptoms, but not overly concerned.

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