Oakland County Health Division is monitoring the nationwide occurrence of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which is a rare, serious condition that is not fully understood. The Health Division is providing guidance to local healthcare providers to assist in its diagnosis.
AFM affects mainly children and is not believed to be contagious. It may be a rare complication following a viral infection, and environmental and genetic factors may also contribute to its development. Symptoms may include:
• Sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs
• Difficulty moving the eyes
• Drooping eyelids or a facial droop/weakness
• Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states this year. The CDC has confirmed 386 cases since it began tracking the condition in 2014.
Since AFM may develop because of a viral infection, the Health Division recommends parents and children take basic steps to avoid infections and stay healthy:
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
• Stay up to date on vaccinations
• Protect yourself and children against mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing and using EPA-registered insect repellent when in an area with mosquitoes.
Contact a healthcare provider immediately if potential AFM symptoms occur. It is important that comprehensive tests are done as soon as possible after symptoms develop. While there is no specific treatment for AFM, doctors may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.