October 22, 2018 – AFM
Anchor lead: A disturbing condition called acute flaccid myelytis is now in 22 states in the US, Elizabeth Tracey reports
Acute flaccid myelitis is a condition that follows what seems to be a garden variety upper respiratory infection, causing muscle weakness in children younger than 18 years of age. CDC data just released indicate that so far this year, the condition has developed in 62 children in 22 states. Carlos Pardo, an expert in the immunology of the nervous system at Johns Hopkins, says much more is unknown than is known.
Pardo: We know that there is an association with a viral infection but we haven’t been able to demonstrate clearly which virus is involved, but suspect number one is an enterovirus called D68, that has been circulating in the last several years in the United States and it appears that it causes an upper respiratory infection among children. :22
Pardo says isolating the virus has been a problem because once children develop the muscle weakness they are no longer producing a lot of virus, so no one has been able to isolate the causative agent. He notes that the muscle weakness can progress to inability to breath without assistance, requiring mechanical ventilation, so if parents notice unusual symptoms following a cold, seeking help immediately at an emergency department is appropriate. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.