AFM: What you need to know about acute flaccid myelitis
AFM: What you need to know about acute flaccid myelitis
Rare 'Polio-Like' Illness Diagnosed in 6 Minnesota Kids
12 October, 2018, 01:08
The cases of acute flaccid myelitis started showing up in Minnesota before mid-September, all in children under 10. Acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM, affects the body's nervous system, targeting the spinal cord, and can result in paralysis.
CDC has tested many different specimens from AFM patients for a wide range of pathogens (germs) that can cause AFM. According to the statement of CDC, disease prevention stamps should be practiced by the people by having vaccines and taking care of cleanliness.
Minnesota saw three cases that year and typically sees less than one case per year.
AFM can be developed from a viral infection, although its exact cause is unknown. In 2014, August, AFM first hit the US. In particular, the condition can cause weakness in the arms and legs along with loss of muscle tone and problems with reflexes. Most of the cases that CDC has learned about have been in children. Symptoms can include sudden arm and leg weakness, drooping eyelids, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes and slurred speech/difficulty swallowing.
He emphasized that early work-up is helpful for finding the underlying cause of the AFM cases and added that most children eventually recover from the damage from the spinal cord inflammation. According to the CDC, the largest number of cases, about 50, were reported in September 2014 before dropping to single digits in following months. The case reports are from individuals younger than 18 years of age and from northern IL.
The CDC recommends people follow normal disease prevention steps to avoid AFM, including staying current on vaccines, washing hands and avoiding mosquito bites. Though the AFM cases show a similar seasonality as polio, Osterholm said a difference in the recent AFM pattern is that most severe polio cases were in adults. There are no specific treatments for AFM, so doctors may decide on certain treatments on a case-by-case basis.
"What we don't know is why these common cold symptoms, why in some individuals does it turn into AFM that's where the mystery lies", said Dr. Sinner. A medical report detailing the case of a 12-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with AFM noted that caring for patients with AFM often means involving an infectious disease physician, a neurologist, an orthotist, physical therapist and a speech therapist. And there are other diseases that mimic the symptoms, such as West Nile virus and Guillain Barre syndrome.
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