(Camden, NJ) – The Centers for Disease Control has issued an alert to health care providers that it anticipates 2020 to be a peak year for cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), an uncommon but serious neurologic condition that affects mostly children. Amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, public health officials are urging parents not to delay treatment if they suspect AFM symptoms in their children.
The disease has peaked every two years between August and November in the United States since 2014. During its last peak in 2018, there were 11 diagnosed cases of AFM in New Jersey, according to the CDC.
“We want to reassure parents that our community’s hospitals have remained secure throughout the pandemic, and that no one should delay care for themselves or their children out of fear that their local health care facility will be unsafe,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Department of Health. “Little is known about what causes this rare disease, but regular disease prevention steps like hand washing and avoiding others who appear sick are easy ways to protect yourself and your children.”
There is no specific germ that has been commonly identified in laboratory testing among AFM cases. AFM can possibly be caused by a variety of viral infections, including poliovirus and other non-polio enteroviruses, flaviviruses, and adenoviruses.
Most patients will have experience a sudden onset of weakness or paralysis of one or more limbs and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Some patients may also experience:
- Facial droop/weakness
- Difficulty moving the eyes
- Drooping eyelids
- Difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech
More information regarding AFM is available from:
- Your healthcare provider or doctor
- New Jersey Department of Health – https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/afm.shtml
- Centers for Disease Control – https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/index.html