What is acute flaccid myelitis, the mysterious polio-like disorder affecting kids?

Pearl Mccarthy
October 13, 2018

All of the cases have been reported on the west side of the state with two children in King County and one child in Pierce County, Lewis County and Snohomish County.

They took Zoe to a doctor, who performed some tests, and recommended they watch her over the weekend. Three other cases were reported in Pierce, Lewis, and Snohomish counties.

The CDC estimates that less than a million people will get AFM every year in the United States.

- Add the Keystone State to the list of places now dealing with a mysterious polio-like illness that can partially paralyze children.

The agency said it hasn't confirmed the cause for the majority of the cases, which primarily occur in children.

On Wednesday, theIllinois Department of Public Health announced it was investigating nine recent cases of AFM in patients under the age of 18, all of which are reportedly limited to "northern Illinois".

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AFM is a virus that affects the nervous system.

Symptoms include arm or leg weakness, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids and difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.

"What we do know is that AFM can be caused by lots of different things, and one of those things is a viral infection", said Dr. Elizabeth Meade, Chief of Pediatrics at Swedish. In some cases, it can lead to paralysis or death but Dr. Robinette says this is a very rare complication of a common infection. "That enterovirus is transmittable from person to person, but you can't actually catch AFM from somebody else". There is now no cure for AFM and the exact cause is uncertain.

In 2017, 33 cases were reported in 16 states. With the help of testing and examinations, doctors can distinguish between AFM and other neurologic conditions. There were about 15 cases reported in August 2018.

Doctors are encouraging people to practice what are called "general prevention strategies" - including washing your hands with soap and water, getting vaccinated and preventing mosquito bites.

Since the CDC began tracking AFM cases four years ago, at least 362 cases have been logged nationwide, according to the CDC's website.

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