CDC urges doctors to rapidly recognize and report AFM

With the "season" for acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) approaching, CDC is urging health care professionals to rapidly recognize the symptoms of the disease and report all suspected to cases to their local health department.

With the "season" for acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) approaching, CDC is urging health care professionals to rapidly recognize the symptoms of the disease and report all suspected to cases to their local health department. A new Vital Signs notes that early identification and reporting are key to providing patients with the right care and rehabilitation, and better understanding AFM. Most people who contract AFM are previously healthy children who had respiratory symptoms or fever consistent with a viral infection less than 1 week before they experienced limb weakness. CDC first started monitoring the disease 5 years ago, when an outbreak of 120 cases occurred. Another outbreak occurred 2 years later, with 149 cases, and a third, with 233 patients, was recorded in 2018. Cases of AFM appear to follow a seasonal and biennial pattern, increasing between August and October every other year. A CDC analysis of cases confirmed last year found enteroviruses and rhinoviruses in nearly 50% of respiratory and stool samples. Only two of the 74 cases with a cerebral spinal fluid specimen were positive for enteroviruses (EV-A71 and EV-D68). "Our thorough investigation of AFM will help lead to more answers about this severe disease," said Tom Clark, MD, MPH, deputy director, Division of Viral Diseases at CDC. "We are monitoring AFM trends and the clinical presentation, conducting research to identify possible risk factors, using advanced lab testing and research to understand how viral infections may lead to AFM, and tracking long-term outcomes of AFM patients."