December 31, 2018 – AFM
Anchor lead: Can characterizing acute flaccid myelitis help clinicians spot it? Elizabeth Tracey reports
Acute flaccid myelitis, the mysterious illness that has stuck fear into the hearts of parents nationally, has better definition now. Matthew Elrick, a pediatric neurologist at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, have reviewed the clinical characteristics of AFM and helped distinguish it from another similar condition, transverse myelitis.
Elrick: In many cases there’s features that can distinguish between the two. All of the restrictively defined AFM patients had viral symptoms before they developed paralysis. They all had weakness in a pattern that points to specifically the motor neurons in the spinal cord. So they have low muscle tone and low reflexes along with that weakness, and they generally didn’t have sensory symptoms and the bowel and bladder symptoms that were much less prominent in the restrictively defined group. :27
Elrick hopes such definition will help clinicians spot AFM earlier, when the virus suspected of causing the condition might still be isolated. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.