During a press briefing today, Director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, Dr. Nancy Messonnier gave an update on the acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) update in the United States this year.

Image/CDC screen shot
Image/CDC screen shot

“CDC has been actively investigating AFM, testing specimens and monitoring disease since 2014 when we first saw an increase in cases.

“The number of cases reported in this time period in 2018 is similar to what was reported in the fall of 2014 and 2016. Since 2014, most of the AFM cases have been among children. In 2018 so far, CDC has received reports of 127 patients under investigation or PUIs; 62 cases have been confirmed as AFM (in 22 states)”.

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“CDC and state and local health departments are still investigating some of these PUIs. Of the confirmed cases, the average age is about 4 years old. More than 90 percent of the cases are in children age 18 years and younger”, she said.

Dr. Messonnier reminded parents to seek medical care right away if they or their child develop sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs.

“Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now. We recommend seeking medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness of the arms or legs. As we work to better understand what is causing AFM, parents can help protect their children from serious diseases by following prevention steps like washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended immunizations and using insect repellent.”

From August 2014 through September 2018, CDC has received information on a total of 386 confirmed cases of AFM across the US; most of the cases have occurred in children.