Baffling Illness on the Rise in U.S. Kids
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a mysterious disease that causes muscle weakness and paralysis—similar to polio. According to the CDC, 50 confirmed cases of AFM in 24 states have been reported so far this year, as of August 2016. In 2015, only 21 cases were reported all year.
AFM has been linked to a number of viruses, including enteroviruses. Enteroviruses typically cause respiratory illness, but in rare cases, they can cause inflammation of the central nervous system—the brain and spinal cord—and lead to serious complications.
Health officials believe a particular enterovirus--EV-D68—that caused 120 cases of AFM in 2014 may be circulating again. AFM is rare, but the effects are long term and can be disabling. Preventive measures include frequent hand-washing and staying home from work or school when sick.
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