30 years after polio was eliminated in America, a similar virus is paralyzing U.S. children – and there’s no vaccination.

Why the CDC is “concerned.”


“Acute Flaccid Myelitis”

  • AFM attacks body’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, & can cause paralysis.
  • Primarily affects children.
  • CDC: no confirmed cause, but viruses, environmental toxins, & genetic disorders may be to blame. Still investigating.
  • No treatment; patients receive aggressive support care while the virus runs its course.

What to Watch For

“There’s a sudden onset of weakness in the arm, leg, face, or the muscles that help us swallow and that we use to speak.”

Dr. Amaran Moodley, Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, IA. In severe cases a person can suffer respiratory failure and must be put on a ventilator.

Important to Know

  • CDC: AFM a very rare condition.
  • Since the CDC began tracking AFM in 2014, there have been a total of 362 cases (vs. polio with 15K cases/year in 1950s.)
  • Bi-annual cycle? 2014 saw a 120 cases of AFM, but 2015 had 22. Another spike in 2016 with 149 cases & then 23 in 2017. Too early to say what it means for 2018.

According to the CDC, 38 cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported in 16 states this year (through the end of September.) Colorado has seen the most cases with 14.

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