If you have heard and are concerned about the recent increase in cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis, a polio-like virus that largely affects those under 18 years of age, we encourage you to educate yourself on the symptoms and facts surrounding the condition. While the condition is not new and impacts less than one million people in the US each year, the increase in cases in recent years is a cause for attention.
Seek medical care right away if you or your child develops any of the following symptoms:
- arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes
- facial droop/weakness
- difficulty moving the eyes
- drooping eyelids
- difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech
While there are no specific ways to prevent most cases of AFM, the CDC recommends the following actions (since poliovirus and West Nile virus can sometimes cause AFM):
- Be up to date on your polio vaccination
- Protect yourself from mosquito-borne viruses, such as West Nile virus, by using mosquito repellent, staying indoors at dusk and dawn, which is the prime period that mosquitoes bite, and removing standing or stagnant water near your home (where mosquitoes can breed).
- Washing your hands often is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to other people. (It is not known if effective in preventing AFM, but never a bad idea.)