Cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis confirmed in Wisconsin and Minnesota

Published: Oct. 18, 2018 at 5:35 PM CDT
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It is a rare condition that is popping up around the country, including right here in the Midwest.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they are growing concerned about Acute Flaccid Myelitis.

"AFM is a condition that is characterized by flaccid paralysis. It's a sudden onset of weakness in usually a leg or an arm. It can also be in the face, that kind of develops quickly over hours or days," said Mayo Clinic Chair of Infectious Diseases Elie Berbari.

Less than one in one million people in the U.S. get AFM each year, but the cases are spiking over the last few weeks.

The CDC has confirmed 62 cases of AFM in 22 states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

Seven cases have been confirmed in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin.

Another 65 cases nationwide are under investigation for AFM by the CDC.

"It seems like there's been more cases since 2014 on a national level. It's unclear why this has been occurring. It seems like they're mostly clustered in the summer, but they can occur throughout the year," said Berbari.

Most patients who get the polio-like condition are children and as we enter the cold and flu season, AFM is one more thing for parents to watch out for.

"It could be preceded by a viral illness. A respiratory illness or a viral illness and then it's the development of a sudden weakness," said Berbari.

Unfortunately health officials do not know the cause of AFM or the long-term effects.

"The fact that there is not a documented cause at this moment is an alarming piece of it," said Berbari. "And the fact that it's hard to advise on prevention when the cause has not been identified."

The Wisconsin Department of Health recommends frequently washing your hands, staying up to date on vaccinations and to stay home when sick.

For more information about Acute Flaccid Myelitis