CDC Warns of Potential Increase in Acute Flaccid Myelitis Cases

Over the last few years, there have been slight increases in the number of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) cases throughout the United States. Specifically, 2014, 2016, and 2018 all saw rising numbers. Due to the pandemic and more social distancing measures, as well as masks, there was not much of an increase from 2018 to now. However, shares Inside Edition, the CDC have once again warned about possible increases in AFM cases.

According to the CDC, the hypothesized reason for the recent increase in cases is an increase in respiratory illnesses. Doctors are unsure of the exact cause of acute flaccid myelitis. However, viruses are meant to play a role; thus, viral respiratory illnesses can cause this to develop. AFM often manifests within 1-4 weeks following the viral infection. This condition is most common from late summer through early fall, and most commonly affects younger children.

It is important to seek treatment as soon as you can. One warning sign for parents is if a child seems to be recovering well before a sudden turn (feeling worse again, experiencing weakness or difficulty breathing).

So far, the United States has seen 13 different AFM cases in nine different states. However, some neurologists and pediatricians believe that cases may increase in the coming months as children return back to school.

To protect against AFM, continue practicing good hygeine practices, stay up-to-date on recommended vaccinations, and speak with your doctor if you or your family are experiencing any AFM symptoms.

What is Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)?

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare but serious neurological condition that largely affects children. It affects the nervous system and, more specifically, gray matter. Symptoms are often very similar to that of polio. These symptoms, which may appear very suddenly, can include:

  • Loss of reflexes
  • Arm or leg weakness or paralysis
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty moving the eyes
  • Blood pressure instability
  • Arm, leg, back, and/or neck pain
  • Facial weakness or drooping
  • Inability to pass urine
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Numbness and/or tingling
  • Respiratory failure
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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