Since the beginning of the year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received 50 reports of cases of Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) from 24 states through the end of August. During the last half of 2014, 120 AFM cases were reported in the US, while in all of 2015, only 21 cases were reported.
AFM is a condition that affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, which can result from a variety of causes including viral infections, including enteroviruses.
The increase in AFM cases in 2014 coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among people caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). Among the people with AFM, CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in the specimens collected from them. In 2015 there were no cases of EV-D68 detected and so far in 2016, only limited sporadic cases of EV-D68 have been detected in the United States.
The symptoms include a sudden onset of limb weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. In addition, some patients will also experience facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, or difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.
CDC says there is no specific treatment for acute flaccid myelitis, but a doctor who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses (neurologist) may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.
If you or your child is having problems walking or standing, or develop sudden weakness in an arm or leg, you should contact a doctor right away.
- More Enterovirus, acute flaccid myelitis cases reported in the US
- Research strengthens link between acute flaccid myelitis and enterovirus D68 infection
- France reports 1st acute flaccid paralysis post EV-D68 infection in Europe