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Fact Finding: Acute Flaccid Myelitis Outbreak

Today two news sources (Statnews.com and ABC news) discussed Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) outbreaks in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided a public health ground rounds presentation on AFM last month. It was from this ground rounds presentation that I learned Acute Flaccid Myelitis in the past was associated with Polio and is now starting to be diagnosed more frequently due to Enterovirus. However, an outbreak by definition is "an increase in the number of cases of a disease above what is expected for that population limited to a geographic area" (Deputy Director for Public Health Science and Surveillance, Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development, 2012). The frequency has been predicted to increase this year because it has increased every 2 years in the past (since 2014). The current situation has not reached the level of alarm that COVID-19/CORONAVIRUS has and it should not because in the past it has not caused a pandemic. AFM is predicted to be less significant this year than it has been in past years due to the social distancing and hand-washing that has been implemented with COVID. Health care providers need to be up to date with the current information that is being provided to the public from the media. A provider's ability to provide credible information to their patients, community members, and colleagues is essential. The health care provider should be able to provide an understanding of the situation at hand, and how the public can protect themselves. 




The quick facts to know:

Most common pathogen: Enterovirus

Data: 98% of these cases require hospitalization and 54% required ICU admission. Over half of the patients experienced paralysis in two or more limbs

Signs and symptoms per the CDC:

*Viral illness symptoms 1 week before limb weakness begins

***fever and/or cough

**neck/back pain

**headache

**GI illness

**Rash


References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, July 29). Acute Flaccid Myelitis: Answering Questions Through National Collaboration | Public Health Grand Rounds | CDC. CDC.Gov. https://www.cdc.gov/grand-rounds/pp/2020/20200703-acute-flaccid-myelitis.html


Deputy Director for Public Health Science and Surveillance, Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development. (2012, May 18). Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice. CDC.GOV. https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dsepd/ss1978/lesson1/section11.html


ABC News Article


Statnews Article


Disclaimer: I do not speak on behalf of the CDC. The views expressed do not represent those of my employers, clients, federal, state, or local government entities.

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