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Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is an uncommon but serious neurologic condition. It affects the nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak.

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare condition that affects the nervous system, which can cause muscles and reflexes in the body to not work normally. AFM can be caused by a variety of viruses, including poliovirus and other non-polio enteroviruses, adenovirus, and West Nile virus (WNV) as well as viruses in the same family as WNV. Other causes of this condition include autoimmune diseases and exposure to environmental toxins.

You can protect yourself and others by the following a few easy steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Seek medical care immediately if you or your child develop any of these symptoms: weakness or loss of muscle tone or reflexes in the arms or legs, facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, difficulty with swallowing, or slurred speech.

If a doctor suspects someone to have AFM, they should be hospitalized immediately. AFM can worsen rapidly and weaken the muscles used for breathing. The patient might need extra support (like a ventilator) to help them breathe.