CDC: Close to 100 Cases of Rare Polio-Like Disease Identified in 2018

CDC: Close to 100 Cases of Rare Polio-Like Disease Identified in 2018

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 10 more confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a polio-like illness that mostly affects children.

This now brings the tally of confirmed cases of AFM to 90.

What is Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Acute flaccid myelitis is a rare condition that affects the nervous system; specifically the area of the spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak.

Perhaps the most serious characteristic is the sudden onset of paralysis.

Most people affected with AFM will have sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Other symptoms include:

  • facial droop/weakness,
  • difficulty moving the eyes,
  • drooping eyelids, or
  • difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech.

According to a CDC report last week, 99% of children with confirmed AFM had experienced a viral illness with symptoms such as fever and cough about three to 10 days before the onset of paralysis.


The CDC has funded state health departments to increase both awareness and the ability to identify cases, as well as  increased its network of neurologists to assist with and confirm AFM cases.

Furthermore, the CDC has established an AFM task force of national experts to help develop a comprehensive research agenda to better understand AFM and those who have it.

“As a mom, I know what it’s like to be scared for your child, and I understand parents want answers,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “The CDC is a science-driven agency. Right now, the science doesn’t give us an answer. That’s why we at CDC, along with all our partners, will keep looking for answers.”

Thankfully, there have been no deaths due to AFM reported to the CDC this year.

Click here to read CNN’s report on these new AFM cases, and for a more detailed report, click here to read the American Academy of Family Physicians’s findings.