Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
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Number of AFM Cases in 2018 'Appears to Have Peaked — CDC

Number of AFM Cases in 2018 'Appears to Have Peaked — CDC

Reports show that more than 90% of patients with confirmed cases had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they developed AFM. A total of 299 possible cases had been referred to the CDC this year, as of November 30.

As AFM cases have surged in the fall - the third spike since 2014 - federal health officials and clinicians across the country have raced to understand the underlying cause of the disease.

The CDC also wants to make it known that the increase in AFM cases has not been linked to vaccines and, even though it resembles polio, AFM is not caused by polio. Most experts believe viruses are causing the very rare condition, although no one can say if any single virus is the cause, or if several different viruses are to blame. Clinicians say the condition is underdiagnosed and underreported.

The CDC noted on its AFM surveillance website that almost all patients had "mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection" prior to developing acute flaccid myelitis, and that most AFM cases are children. And the children with AFM had only had damage in the spinal cord's gray matter ¾ where the bodies of the nerve cells reside ¾ and not in the white matter-where the connections between nerve cells that send messages back and forth reside-or the brain like those cases with alternative diagnoses.

Without clear guidance, doctors are trying several different kinds of treatment. At present, number of individuals for investigation of AFM is at an all time high and is expected to decline for the remaining part of 2018.

The CDC has so far confirmed 134 cases in 33 states - but the agency announced Monday that it expects the number of possible AFM cases to decline for the rest of 2018. The number of confirmed cases by state will continue to be updated. In 2015, there were 22 guaranteed cases and in 2017, 35 guaranteed cases were declared.

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