Acute Flaccid Myelitis, otherwise known as AFM, is causing some children to lose the ability to move their face, neck, back, arms or legs.
The symptoms of AFM include:
- weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes in the arms or legs
- facial droop or weakness
- difficulty moving the eyes
- drooping eyelids
- difficulty swallowing
- slurred speech
If you or your child is displaying any of these symptoms, you should seek medical care right away.
The mystery illness could possibly be linked to viruses and environmental toxins, according to the CDC.
The viruses cited by the CDC that could be linked are:
- poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses,
- West Nile virus (WNV) and viruses in the same family as WNV, specifically Japanese encephalitis virus and Saint Louis encephalitis virus,
Ways to prevent viruses that could lead to AFM include:
- Making sure you are all up to date on polio vaccinations.
- Protecting against bites from mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus, by using mosquito repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most common, and removing standing water near your home.
- You can also protect yourself and others from enteroviruses by washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, including toys.
For more information about AFM, visit the CDC website page on Acute Flaccid Myelitis.