CDC expects 2020 outbreak of life-threatening AFM

Parents and clinicians should be on the alert for acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in children in the coming months, CDC warned Tuesday. The rare but serious neurologic condition that affects primarily children has peaked every 2 years between August and November since 2014.

Parents and clinicians should be on the alert for acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in children in the coming months, CDC warned Tuesday. The rare but serious neurologic condition that affects primarily children has peaked every 2 years between August and November since 2014. In a new Vital Signs report, CDC reports there was a delay in case for some AFM patients in 2018, with 35% of patients not hospitalized until 2 or more days after experiencing limb weakness. "AFM can progress rapidly over the course of hours or days, leading to permanent paralysis and/or the life-threatening complication of respiratory failure in previously healthy patients, so delays in care can be serious," CDC warned. The agency said parents and clinicians should suspect AFM in patients with sudden limb weakness, particularly in the August through November time frame. Concern should be increased with recent respiratory illness or fever and the presence of neck or back pain or any neurologic symptom. CDC noted, "AFM is a medical emergency and patients should seek immediate medical care, even in areas with high COVID-19 activity." The new CDC report offers a more detailed look at the clinical characteristics of AFM in 2018, when there were 238 cases in 42 states.