Texas Reports 5 Additional Acute Flaccid Myelitis Cases

Texas has reported 21 AFM cases during 2018

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So far in 2018, there are 158 confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) reported in 36 states, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

And, the state of Texas has reported a total of 21 cases, with 5 new cases reported in just 1 week. 

AFM is not a new condition, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC has been thoroughly investigating the AFM cases that have occurred since 2014 when we first noted a large number of cases being reported. 

Recently, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics, the CDC's definition of acute flaccid myelitis may be too broad and include children who have alternative diagnoses. 

These researchers said that restricting the criteria used to diagnose AFM may allow physicians to better identify those with the condition.

AFM is a complex condition that affects a person’s nervous system, specifically, the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs.

And, AFM is difficult to determine why only some people go from having a mild respiratory illness or fever to developing AFM, says the CDC. 

Since AFM affects the spinal cord, finding a pathogen in the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord would be good evidence for a cause. 

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The CDC has tested many different specimens from AFM patients for a wide range of pathogens that can cause AFM, says the CDC.   

Recently, the CDC launched an AFM Task Force on November 21, 2018.     

This task force will bring together experts from a variety of scientific, medical, and public health disciplines to help solve this critical public health issue. 

“I want to reaffirm to parents, patients, and our nation, CDC’s commitment to this serious medical condition,” said Robert R. Redfield, M.D., in a press release. 

“This Task Force will ensure that the full capacity of the scientific community is engaged and working together to provide important answers and solutions to actively detect, more effectively treat, and ultimately prevent AFM and its consequences.”     

The Task Force will convene under CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases’ Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) and will make key recommendations to the BSC to inform and strengthen CDC’s response to this urgent public health concern. 

While the CDC does not know the cause of these AFM cases, it’s always important to practice disease prevention steps, such as staying up-to-date on vaccines, like polio.