The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States (US), issued a briefing about the increasing number of cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM). AFM affects the spinal cord, a part of the nervous system that carries messages between the brain and the body’s sensory neurons. Similarly to polio, the disease causes weakness in the limbs, loss of reflexes and pain.
Since August 2014, authorities have confirmed 386 cases, mostly in children. This year only, until September 2018, there were 62 confirmed cases in 22 states across the US, almost the double reported in 2017.
Environmental toxins, genetic disorders, and virus, such as poliovirus, are among the factors that cause AFM. However, the CDC recognises that the cause of most AFM cases remains unknown and all the recent cases tested negative for poliovirus. Authorities recommend that people keep their vaccines up-to-date and other measures such as hygiene habits and protection against mosquito bites.
Read the CDC Update on AFM here
According to the World Health Organisation, monitoring the evolution of AFM, a subtype of Acute Flaccid Paralysis, is crucial for countries still at risk of polio transmission. And, despite the increase in the number of cases in the last five years, the CDC states that AFM is still a rare disease, affecting less than one in a million people in the US.
Image Credit: Fæ [CC BY 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
Bassey, Bassey Enya, et al. “Characteristics of acute flaccid paralysis reported by the surveillance system and verified by WHO Officer in Akwa Ibom State-Nigeria, 2006-2012.” Health6.19 (2014): 2602 [Open Access] Revision to the Standardized Surveillance and Case Definition for Acute Flaccid Myelitis; Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists; retrieved on 17/10/2018