The Latest Flu-like Symptoms in Children

October 31, 2018

A rare and relatively new disorder known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) appears to be on the rise once more across the United States for 2018. It begins with flu-like symptoms in children and primarily affects the extremities with symptoms of muscle weakness and paralysis similar to polio. At its most severe, AFM can spread to other muscle groups to affect respiration, risking lung failure.  AFM first appeared in 2014 when 120 children across the United States developed a mysterious polio-like syndrome.  In 2016, 149 patients were stricken with the same condition.

Health Update: The Latest Flu-like Symptoms in Children“We don’t know exactly what’s causing AFM, but it seems to be viral,” said Tami Hendriksz, DO, Pediatrician and Associate Dean of Clinical Education for the College of Osteopathic Medicine. “This year, there has been 127 cases of AFM reported across 22 states, but the worry is that there are even more cases that have yet to be officially diagnosed or have gone unreported. It seems to be the worst wave yet.”

The best known way to prevent AFM is to practice good hygiene like washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding those who are sick. While the viruses that may be tied to AFM behave like a common cold, the onset of AFM can be sudden, leading to paralysis in a matter of hours.

Dr. Hendriksz stresses to parents, “Although AFM has been regularly passing through the US, it is still a very rare illness. Most children who catch these viruses will only have mild cold-symptoms, only a handful will progress to AFM. But if a child comes down with an upper respiratory tract infection along with any hint of muscle weakness, have him or her seen by a pediatrician as quickly as possible.”

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