So, as it seems like things couldn't get any worse in 2020, the Center For Disease Control has issued an immediate call to action warning of a potential outbreak, between August 2020 through November 2020, of a disease that affects young children and could be fatal.

The disease is Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, a rare neurological disease that requires immediate medical attention if your child has any of the following symptoms, typically  following a fever and/or respiratory illness that has lasted around six days.

  • sudden arm or leg weakness
  • difficulty walking
  • limb pain
  • back pain or
  • neck pain
Center For Disease Control/MMWR, August 2020.
Center For Disease Control/MMWR, August 2020.

AFM can cause your child to become paralyzed in days, in more severe cases, just hours.  The paralysis causes breathing issues that require a ventilator. The average age of children getting AFM is five years old. Cases of AFM have been rising since 2014 and experts are fearing even more confirmed cases in 2020.

The CDC says that the way to prevent AFM is by following most of the guidelines we are already following for COVID-19.

  • Washing hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching face with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

And also remember that to decrease the risk of spreading viral infections you should:

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including toys and doorknobs
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper shirt sleeve, not hands
  • Keeping sick children at home

At this time, there is no specific treatment for AFM, but immediate medical attention and proper diagnosis is key. If you suspect your child might have AFM, please contact your health provider immediately.


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