Minnesota health officials on the lookout for rare nervous system disorder

Spencer Underwood
October 12, 2018

Melaney Arnold of the Illinois Department of Public Health says health care providers in the state have reported nine cases of AFM. Children have been attacked by this disease since September mid.

Even with an increase in cases since 2014, AFM remains a very rare condition.

So far this year, 38 cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported in 16 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including Texas and Colorado. "Collecting information about suspected AFM cases is relatively new, and it is voluntary for most states to send this information to CDC". The CDC3 does not advocate the use of steroids, IVig, or plasma exchange in AFM, but individuals with AFM or caregivers of children with AFM should discuss treatment recommendations with their physician.

During the 2014 national spike in AFM cases, Minnesota had three cases, and since then has averaged about one case per year.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, and the long-term outcomes for AFM patients is unknown.

Investigators are still collecting data on the two unconfirmed cases in Minnesota, which involved children under the age of 10 who displayed symptoms in the summer, Griffith said. This virus is transmitted from person to person and it can have severe effects of the brain and spinal cord of the system. Symptoms can include sudden arm and leg weakness, drooping eyelids, facial weakness, difficulty moving the eyes and slurred speech/difficulty swallowing.

Acute flaccid myelitis appears to be caused most often by viruses, especially one called EV-D68.


Nearly any viral infection can cause neurological symptoms, although it's extremely unusual, so the CDC says it is also important to be fully up to date on vaccinations.

"The results come back that he had an abnormality throughout his entire spinal cord", Elaine Young said.

Luckily, he was diagnosed fairly quickly since a doctor at the hospital where he was treated wrote a paper on AFM.

All six cases required hospitalization and prompted health officials to encourage parents to closely monitor their children for symptoms.

Parents are being told to make their children wash their hands regularly to reduce the chances of catching a viral infection. The agency is also studying AFM outbreaks to better understand the condition and uring healthcare providers to be vigilant about its symptoms.

Orville is in therapy and faces possible surgery.

Michael added, "He's remarkably, like, able to wrap his head around this as it's going on".

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