Six children in Minnesota have developed acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, according to officials from the Minnesota Department of Health. These cases have all occurred since mid-September in children aged younger than 10 years, and all children have been hospitalized, the officials said in a statement.
The CDC reported that certain viruses may trigger this condition or other similar neurologic conditions, including poliovirus or nonpoliovirus, West Nile virus and adenoviruses. Environmental and genetic factors may also be factors contributing to the development of this rare condition.
“[Minnesota Department of Health] investigators are working aggressively with health care providers to gather information about the cases,” the officials said in a statement. “The department is also in contact with the CDC to share information.”
All cases occurred in the Twin Cities, as well as central and northeastern Minnesota.
AFM typically causes muscle weakness in the extremities and may also cause weakness or stiffness in the neck, facial droop or drooping eyelids and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.
In 2014, three Minnesota children developed AFM during a national uptick in cases. An investigation led disease investigators to believe that these cases were caused by enterovirus D 68. Officials said that Minnesota typically sees less than one case annually.
To prevent AFM, the Department of Health recommends the following precautions for children and parents:
- Frequent hand-washing,
- Proper cough and sneeze etiquette,
- Staying home if ill,
- Making sure all vaccinations are up to date,
- And protecting children from mosquito bites if outside.
“AFM can be diagnosed by examining a person’s nervous system, taking an MRI scan and testing the [cerebrospinal] fluid,” officials from the Minnesota Department of Health said in a statement. “While there is no specific treatment for AFM, doctors may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.” – by Katherine Bortz
CDC: Acute flaccid myelitis - About acute flaccid myelitis. https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/about-afm.html. Accessed: Oct. 8, 2018.