Of these, 62 have been confirmed by the CDC in 22 states, and the remainder continues to be investigated. Acute…
Of these, 62 have been confirmed by the CDC in 22 states, and the remainder continues to be investigated.
Acute weak myelitis, also called AFM, is a rare but severe condition that affects the nervous system – especially the spinal cord is called gray matter. It affects fewer than one in a million people each year across the country, estimates CDC.
The number of patients studied has increased from 127 patients a week ago, but no new confirmed cases have been reported.
The average age of patients confirmed to have the condition is only 4 years and over 90% of cases generally occur in children 18 and under, according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Head of the Agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. 1
“CDC has actively investigated AFM, test samples and monitor diseases since 2014, when we first saw an increase in cases,” Messonnier told last week. “Most AFM cases occur in late summer and autumn”, but no geographical grouping has been found and there is no other “aggregation factor to explain the peaks” that appears to occur every other year, she added.
CDC received information about 33 confirmed cases by AFM in 2017, 149 cases 2016, 22 cases 2015 and 120 cases in the latter part of 2014.
“There is much we do not know about AFM,” including the cause in a majority of the cases, Messonnier said. While potential causes may include some viruses, environmentally toxic substances and genetic disorders, CDC says: “AFM can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many of the same symptoms as other neurological diseases.”
It is also unclear who could be at higher risk of developing AFM, said Messonnier. CDC does not fully understand long-term consequences or why some patients recover quickly while others continue to experience paralysis and weakness.
CDC urges parents to be aware of this disease and immediately seek care of family members suddenly develop weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs.
“This is a mystery so far, and we have not solved it yet, so we have to think basically,” said Messonnier.
CNN’s Susan Scutti contributed to this report.