Paralysis

CDC seeks cause of polio-like illness, urges quick reporting

Intense effort is underway to understand and prevent acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the agency pushes doctors to report symptoms early, per its new Vital Signs report.

Why it matters: Doctors continue to seek the cause of the serious neurologic syndrome after the largest recorded outbreak in 2018 — 233 patients in 41 states reported symptoms that often included limb weakness or paralysis. The CDC has expressed frustration in determining the source of the illness, as some but not all patients show evidence of enteroviruses, which are spread through the nervous system, in their bodies.

Mysterious polio-like illness could be from "hit and run" virus

Adapted from a CDC chart; Chart: Axios Visuals

Top U.S. disease experts shared commentary in MBio on Tuesday that acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), the rare illness that strikes mostly young children and causes limb weakness or paralysis, may be caused by a "hit and run" virus and could become more prolific — but research acceleration is needed to know more.

Why it matters: Researchers have been seeking the elusive cause of the illness — which rarely leaves traces of any causative agent in the spinal fluid as expected — since AFM popped onto the national radar as a major outbreak in 2014 and reached a record number in 2018.