MRI showing spinal cord lesion largely restricted to gray matter spanning one or more
vertebral segments (confirmed case) or cerebrospinal fluid with pleocytosis (probable
Most cases have been among children who have had a fever or respiratory illness in
the weeks leading up to their limb weakness. However, the CDC has not been able to
pinpoint a cause of AFM and recently created a task force to investigate. The group
will release its first report on Thursday.
AFM cases have spiked every other year since 2014. Case counts this year have been
on par with 2016 and 2014, which saw 149 and 120 confirmed cases, respectively. As
in previous years, they began to decline in November.
“Although fewer cases are expected in coming months, CDC and partners continue to
carefully study AFM to gain new understanding of the condition so that we can better
diagnose, treat, and prevent it in the future,” the CDC said in a news release.
Physicians should be vigilant for patients with limb weakness, which also may present
with facial droop or difficulty swallowing. They should ask whether patients recently
experienced respiratory or gastrointestinal illness. Those who suspect a patient has
AFM should perform a workup, including MRI, spinal tap and collection of respiratory, stool, serum and spinal fluid samples for testing, and report suspected cases to their state or local health department.