March 20, 2019

Updated CDC Figures Suggest 386 Acute Flaccid Myelitis Cases Since August 2014

25 October 2018, 03:15 | Randall Craig

Eric Audras Getty Images Acute Flaccid Myelitis causes paralysis

Acute Flaccid Myelitis causes paralysis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's investigating 127 reported cases, 62 of them confirmed to be AFM in 22 states.

So far in 2018, there have been 155 reports of the condition, which causes sudden weakness in the arms and legs and can lead to paralysis.

Since the first wave of AFM cases in 2014, the CDC has confirmed 386 cases of AFM. The other 93 cases are still under investigation.

The disease is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. However, the number of patients now under investigation for the rare condition has risen in the last week, up from 127.

The CDC observed an increase in AFM cases in 2014 when it confirmed 120 from August to December, coinciding with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among people caused by enterovirus D68. In the past, an oral polio vaccine could cause a polio-like syndrome in some people, but that vaccine has not been available in the USA since 2000 and the last known case in the US was in an infant with other health problems who was vaccinated in India, brought to the USA and died in 2013, the CDC says.

The average age of patients that have been confirmed to have the condition is just 4 years old.

Doctors and researchers don't know how or why AFM shows up in children or why cases occur in the late summer and fall.

Health officials say there are several potential causes of the condition, including certain viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.

The underlying cause (s) of AMF is not known. "AFM can be hard to diagnose because it shares numerous same symptoms as other neurologic diseases". The CDC does not fully understand long-term consequences or why some patients recover quickly while others continue to experience paralysis and weakness. They've been seeing an increase in cases since 2014. In 2016, there were 149 cases. Based on this history, CDC experts believe the 2018 numbers will be similar.

If a child "develops weakness of a limb, especially in the context of cold-like symptoms or other viral symptoms, they should see their health-care provider immediately", Toronto's Friedman told CBC.

"I encourage parents to seek medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs", Messonnier said. "There is a lot we don't know about AFM, and I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven't been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness".

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