Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) -The Strange Polio-Like Disease Might Hit Back This Fall


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that this year would be the recurring period for an AFM. Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) is a weird, polio-like disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS). The most common target of this disease is children.

CDC has shared a Vital Signs Report requesting all medical health experts to be alert if any sign relevant to AFM shows up. The cases will be at peak during the late summer and early fall of this year.

This disease shows up every two years with a consistent pattern since 2014. In each outbreak, the number of infected children increases, telling that it gets stronger every time it recurs. There is no known cause of this unique medical condition but somehow the scientists are convinced that it is caused by a special type of virus named D68 (EVD68).

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The director CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield has shared a statement telling that the agency is looking for potential cases in the coming months. It has also warned clinicians to look for warning signs of AFM, especially in younger children.

He said that identifying the symptoms and diagnosing in the initial stages is necessary for saving the young patients. CDC, along with its partners in public health have improved their diagnostic systems for the AFM, which suggests that the infected kids will receive quick medical response and necessary care.

Although uncommon, AFM shows a group of neurological conditions that mainly target the spinal cord. More specifically, it targets the gray matter, according to the CDC. As a result of this; it can make its patients weak, and sometimes induces paralysis.

CDC confirms that Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) looks a lot like polio and since 2014, 90% of the cases are reported in children.  While there is no confirmation on what causes it, a study explains a link between this disease and a virus called  D68 (EV-D68) implying that D68 may cause AFM.

Interestingly, polio disease is also caused by an enterovirus strain and is more common in children. The rapid increase in AFM was first seen in 2014 after a national outbreak where many children were affected. However, there were no tests conducted verifying the same strain of EV-D68 in every case reported as AFM.

But after 2014’s outbreak, CDC started to track these cases. Although Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) is a rare medical condition somehow it shows up every two years. Generally, this condition is a non-polio version of an enteroviruses illness, many researchers think its association with the West Nile virus or exposure to toxins.

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The on-going pandemic of coronavirus may affect the medical care and facilities that AFM patients need if this outbreak emerged this fall. Health experts are concerned that people may avoid going to the hospitals despite having AFM symptoms, fearing the exposure to the coronavirus. This delayed medical care may worsen the patient’s health and cause a longer recovery period.

There is no specified treatment for AFM and primary care is the most important step in the recovery. The timely diagnosis, hospitalization, and monitoring by the experts can save a child from the complications of this disease.


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