Dec. 4, 2018

A “polio-like” disease called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), is the subject of three new research publications in a special issue in JAMA Pediatrics journal.


  • Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare but serious condition. It affects the nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak.

  • Cause: Enteroviruses are the main cause of the disease in children

  • Impact:
    • AFM is characterised by muscle weakness — weak limbs, pain, absent reflexes. These symptoms look much like those of polio.

    • The most serious complication of AFM is respiratory failure if the muscles involved with breathing become weakened.

  • Treatment: Urgent testing should be performed AFM can progress rapidly and should be treated as a medical emergency.

  • Vulnerable groups: Most cases of AFM have been in children, but it can develop in adults.

  • Global Scenario: In the US, the Centers for Disease Control has confirmed 116 cases this year (out of 286 under investigation) until November 27, and from Canada, where 48 cases (until November 13) are under investigation.