AFM, a Biennial Polio-Like Viral Illness, Is Expected to Hit the U.S. in 2020

Nobody foresaw the COVID-19 curveball nature was going to throw at us 2020—which is one of the reasons the world has had so much trouble ducking the pitch. But we’ve know for years that another disease, known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), would hit hard this year—beginning this month, in fact. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today held a media teleconference and issued a Vital Signs report reminding families that the illness is fast-approaching, and that in a time of pandemic there could be particular challenges in responding to it that would not be present in other years. AFM is a paralytic condition that is not polio—but not dissimilar to polio either. It strikes mostly children (the average age is 5); it is caused by a virus (likely an enterovirus, a type that incubates in the gut); and worst of all, it can lead to paralysis of the limbs, face and diaphragm, sometimes resulting in death. Like polio, AFM is seasonal, though its peak is August to November, as opposed to polio’s spring-summer cycle. It is also a biannual rather than an annual scourge, presenting the greatest danger in even numbered years. Mercifully, the case count has been comparatively low to date, measuring in double digits in odd-numbered years and the low triple digits in even ones. In 2018, the most serious AFM year on record, there were 238 confirmed cases in 42 states. So far in 2020, there have been 16 confirmed cases in 10 states and the Di...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized Source Type: news

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