First Case of Acute Flaccid Myelitis Reported in North Dakota

The polio-like illness causes muscle weakness and mostly affects children

NORTH DAKOTA — The first possible case of acute flaccid myelitis is reported to the North Dakota Department of Health.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM, is rare condition that affects the nervous system, which causes the muscles to weaken.

The Department of Health says nationwide, there have been over 120 cases reported, with half of those confirmed in 22 states.

“The most attention started in 2014 when the CDC was given a report of AFM amongst the child population so it’s relatively new,” Brenton Nesemeier, field epidemiologist for the North Dakota Department of Health, said.

Symptoms include neck weakness, drooping eyelids, or difficulty swallowing. It mostly affects children.

“The cases we typically see… it’s a later manifestation of a viral infection like a respiratory infection,”┬áNesemeier said.

There are other possible causes like environmental factors or genetic disorders.

Even though people may have a lot of questions, there are still many doctors can’t answer.

“The manifestation is so new that we don’t know the long term consequences of AFM so more research needs to be done,”┬áNesemeier said.

If you or your child does seem to be having the symptoms, he says you should go to your primary care provider.

“Just let them know your complete symptom history, whether or not you’ve had a recent viral infection, and then they would work with us and the CDC to get the appropriate testing done,” he said.

AFM can be diagnosed by taking an MRI scan and testing spinal fluid.

“There is no treatment but the primary care provider may work with occupational therapy or physical therapy to get you back to being healthy,”┬áNesemeier said.

The Department of Health recommends you wash your hands frequently and stay up to date on vaccines to avoid infection.

Categories: Health, Local News, North Dakota News