Abstract virus image on backdrop and AFM text. AFM virus danger relative illustration. Medical research theme. Virus epidemic alert. Acronym AFM - Acute flaccid myelitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects this late summer and fall will be another bad year for cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), an uncommon but serious neurologic condition that affects mostly children. The disease has peaked every two years between August and November in the United States since 2014. Enteroviruses, particularly enterovirus-D68, are likely responsible for these peaks in cases.

Enteroviruses are commonly spread through contact with feces, an infected person or secretions like saliva and mucus, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

According to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, symptoms of AFM include sudden arm or leg weakness, slurred speech, facial drooping, loss of reflexes, difficulty breathing, headache, neck or back pain, bowel or bladder changes,and trouble swallowing.

AFM can progress rapidly over the course of hours or days, leading to permanent paralysis and the life-threatening complication of respiratory failure in previously healthy patients, says the CDC.

It is not known how the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing measures may affect the circulation of viruses that can cause AFM, or if COVID-19 will impact the health care system’s ability to promptly recognize and respond to AFM. If social distancing measures decrease circulation of enteroviruses this year, AFM cases may be fewer than expected or the outbreak may be delayed, says the CDC press release.

To read more about the Nationwide Outbreak of Acute Flaccid Myelitis—United States, 2018 and the entire Vital Signs report, visit www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.