Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) is a life-threatening condition. It is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system, causing limb weakness and paralysis. It's been characterized as polio-like, and cases of AFM have been increasing among children in North Texas since August.
Unfortunately, we don't know what virus causes this and why some children are hit harder than others. Some children develop total paralysis, partial paralysis, or weakness in just one limb. However, scientists have been studying AFM since 2014, the last nationwide outbreak. AFM is suspected to be caused by enterovirus-D68, part of the Picornaviridae family like the poliovirus. Environmental conditions are likely factors in some cases.
Hopefully, we will be identify to confirm AFM's link to enterovirus-D68 and develop a vaccine. For now, this rare disease is not preventable-- so keep continuing children to wash their hands and practice disease prevention steps.
-- Sharon Kam