Mysterious Disease Spreading Among Children and Teens
October 25, 2018
An alarming disease has been occurring among children, and it is even more concerning as the cause is not yet known. The disease is called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), and it has been developing among children since 2014. It’s an extremely rare condition that can lead to paralysis, and affects fewer than one in 1 million people in the United States. It is unpredictable and is hard to diagnose due to similarities with other diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms to look out for include sudden weakness of the limbs, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty speaking or slurred speech. There are other symptoms that might be felt, but could be specific to the patient. The treatments vary on the intensity of the symptoms.
According to Kristina Duda, RN, “The concern here is that cases are increasing and we don’t know why. We don’t know what causes acute flaccid myelitis and we don’t know how to prevent it. This condition has affected primarily children, although some adults have been diagnosed as well. Educating yourself about the symptoms and what to expect will help if you, your child, or someone you know is diagnosed with AFM.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “AFM or similar neurologic conditions may have a variety of possible causes such as viruses and environmental toxins.” Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine the cause even with extensive testing.
The CDC explains that there is no specific treatment for the disease, instead brain and spinal cord specialists prescribe interventions on a case-by-case basis to treat the symptoms. The CDC states, “We do not know the long-term outcomes (prognosis) of people with AFM.” For this reason, the CDC is conducting an investigation into the disease.
Even though a lot of the puzzle pieces are missing, the important thing is to do your best to make healthy choices to prevent illness and to stay informed. If you notice any of the symptoms of AFM, see a doctor immediately.
For more information check out these websites: Acute Flaccid Myelitis, and Acute Flaccid Myelitis: Sudden Paralysis in Children.