The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning in the spike in cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). The disease affects the nervous system of children and is similar to polio. Since 2014, the illness has spiked every two years, and the number of cases has increased in each outbreak.
The CDC has advised healthcare professionals to be vigilant for the signs of acute flaccid myelitis outbreak that might affect children in late summer and early fall of 2020. The disease’s cause is unknown so far; however, a recent study suggests that the enterovirus D68 (EVD68) may cause AFM.
The Director of CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield said,
“As we head into these critical months, CDC is taking necessary steps to help clinicians better recognize the signs and symptoms of AFM in children.”
The agency laid stress on the early recognition and diagnosis of the disease and took steps to detect the infection at an early stage. Dr. Redfield considers the initial assessment to be a vital step in the rehabilitation and treatment of the children.
The symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis are almost similar to poliovirus, adenoviruses, and the West Nile virus, making it a challenge to diagnose AFM. The symptoms include a sudden facial droop, slurred speech, and difficulty keeping one’s eyes open.
The assistant professor, Robert Glatter from the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine Northwell said,
“AFM can also affect the respiratory muscles, leading to difficulty breathing and the need for a ventilator in severe cases.”
Glatter also suggests that parents should understand the increase in the cases since 2014; however, the disease is rare. Enterovirus (EV-D68) might also lead to mild to severe respiratory illness in some cases.
Experts suggest researching the disease to investigate the causes of the disease and provide a clear picture to understand which children are at risk of developing AFM. They also emphasized that it is essential to take precautionary measures against the enterovirus infection to minimize illness risk.
The disease primarily affects children causing severe neurological problems affecting the spinal cord and the gray matter. The children suffering from AFM may have difficulty in performing reflex action movement, have weak muscles, and are at risk of paralysis.
Supportive care and monitoring of the rapid deterioration of muscles and respiratory problems in hospital settings is crucial for the management and treatment of the disease.