What Parents Need to Know – Acute Flaccid Myelitis

In western Pennsylvania and around the country, there have been numerous cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a very rare, acute, neurological disorder that is affecting children.

Children will begin to have weakness in the arms or legs, with one side usually being affected more than the other. Children may have other symptoms, such as fever, respiratory, or gastrointestinal issues, but the key feature is weakness.

The cause is often unknown, but it can be triggered in some kids by common viruses. About 90 percent of cases are seen in people under 18 years old, with an average age of children ages 7 to 9 years old.

The virus was seen more frequently in 2014 and 2016, with about 150 cases. In 2015 and 2017, only a few dozen cases were confirmed, and we are seeing another increase this year.

Can This Happen to My Child?
This mysterious virus can certainly make parents extremely scared, but families need to remember that AFM is extremely rare. Millions of people get enterovirus each year, but only a tiny number will get AFM.

Best Practices
Parents and their children should always practice good hygiene, including:

• Washing your hands
• Coughing and sneezing into your elbow
• Using hand sanitizer

For more information, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.