Health article

Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) | VitalSigns


Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is an uncommon, but life-threatening neurologic condition that affects mostly children and can lead to permanent paralysis. Enteroviruses, particularly EV-D68, are likely responsible for the increase in cases every two years since 2014. AFM is a medical emergency and patients must be hospitalized and monitored in case they progress to respiratory failure. Prompt recognition and immediate action by pediatricians, and emergency department and urgent care providers are critical to achieving the best possible outcomes.

  • AFM typically presents with sudden limb weakness. Most patients had respiratory illness or fever before AFM onset.
  • Patient health can decline quickly, resulting in paralysis or the need for a ventilator. AFM can lead to permanent disability.
  • Patients who tested positive for EV-D68 typically had more severe AFM illness, requiring hospitalized intensive care and ventilation.
  • Most cases occur between August and November.



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