CDC Reports Increase in Polio-Like Illness, Mostly in Kids

by Diane Domina Senior Content Production Editor

As the total number of confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in 2018 rose to 90 across 27 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) suggests the cause of the polio-like illness may be viral. Another 162 possible cases are still under investigation.

AFM is a rare condition that affects the nervous system — specifically, gray matter in the spinal cord — and causes muscle weakness and sudden paralysis. In some cases, it can trigger neurologic complications that can lead to death. Most cases of acute flaccid myelitis — 90 percent of the 414 reported since 2014 — have occurred in children under age 4, but it can also affect older kids and adults.

According to the CDC report, 99 percent of children diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis experienced symptoms of a respiratory infection such as fever and cough for 3 to 10 days before developing paralysis. The agency is focusing on common viruses like enteroviruses and coxsackievirus, but until a viral cause is confirmed, the CDC is also exploring other possibilities, such as genetic and environmental factors.

Confirmed cases of AFM since surveillance began include:

  • 120 in 34 states in 2014

  • 22 in 17 states in 2015

  • 149 in 39 states and Washington, D.C., in 2016

  • 33 in 16 states in 2017

Sourced from: CDC

Diane Domina
Meet Our Writer
Diane Domina

Diane works across brands at Remedy Health Media, producing digital content for its sites and newsletters. Prior to joining the team, she was the editorial director at HealthCommunities.