The New Polio? AFM (Acute Flaccid Myelitis)

Quick, what looks like polio, can be mistaken for polio, but gets almost zero press?

Why, it’s AFM, or acute flaccid myelitis.

Briefly, children coming down with a stomach bug can become paralyzed. Yep, paralyzed. So why aren’t we more upset? Because public health officials tell us it’s very rare.

How rare? We’re not sure, because we don’t monitor stomach flu in the U.S.

But let’s take rareness as a justification for non-concern.

Remember Zika virus? How we lost our minds over that disease? Any idea how many people died of Zika in the U.S.? Maybe one?

Or pick the most recent recall of all romaine lettuce in the U.S. and Canada. How many people died of that outbreak? No one. Only 32 people even got sick.

So rarity is not a reason for not publicizing a disease that is by all accounts more common and has worse long term effects.

AFM is nasty, and hopefully we can stop it before it becomes more common.

Where did AFM come from?

This isn’t a new issue, it’s an ongoing story from a few years back. As a country, the U.S. stopped screening for paralysis since polio cases stopped. But after hearing a few case reports, California started screening again in 2012. Out of two hundred reported cases, California public health determined 59 patients had AFM. Of these, two older patients died. The average patient was around nine years old, and after almost a year of follow-up, only 7 had fully recovered from the paralysis.

For more including what doesn’t work a an experimental treatment, go to

black and white blur child close up
Photo by Pixabay on

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