October 23, 2018 – AFM2


Anchor lead: If you suspect acute flaccid myelitis in your child, what should you do? Elizabeth Tracey reports

It’s every parents’ nightmare – your child has what you think is a common cold, but then suddenly begins falling down for no reason, or develops other symptoms consistent with a muscle problem. As the CDC has just reported, this syndrome, known as acute flaccid myelitis, has now been confirmed in 62 cases in 22 US states. Carlos Pardo, an expert in the immunology of the nervous system at Johns Hopkins, says if you notice these symptoms, seek help right away.

Pardo: There is no reason to panic but when children are experiencing upper respiratory infection experience weakness, facial paralysis, respiratory difficulty, or difficulties with ambulation they need to be taken right away to the emergency department.  :18

Pardo says the muscle problem can become severe enough to impact breathing, requiring mechanical ventilation, and notes that while mortality relative to the condition is low, long term problems following development of the syndrome occur in the majority of cases. That’s because there’s clear damage to the nerves in the spinal cord that control the majority of our muscles, and at the moment, no treatments have been shown to be effective. For now, the best advice is to practice hand hygiene for everyone in the home. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.