Beware: CDC reports rise of polio-like illness that causes acute flaccid myelitis with paralysis Cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like illness, which is causing paralysis are being reported from the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such cases have shown an increasing trend and there has been an increase in reports of confirmed AFM cases this year compared with last year. This year, 50 people in 24 states in the country had been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) between January 1 and August 31, 2016, compared with only 21 people in 2015 in 16 states. While 120 people, mostly patients 21 and younger, in 34 states, were diagnosed with the condition from August to December 2014. Acute flaccid myelitis affects the nervous system, the spinal cord in particular. The etiology still remains unknown, but viral infections such as polio and non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, and the mosquito-borne West Nile virus have been implicated. Enteroviruses can cause neurologic illness such as meningitis, but more serious disease like encephalitis and AFM are less common. Symptoms include sudden onset of weakness in the limbs and loss of muscle tone. Some patients have pain in their arms or legs though numbness or tingling is rare in these patients. Other symptoms include difficulty in swallowing, slurring of speech, facial weakness. In very severe cases, respiratory failure may occur due to the weakening of the muscles of respiration, which may necessitate urgent ventilator support. There is no specific treatment. The outbreak of acute flaccid myelitis in the year 2014 coincided with an outbreak of enterovirus D68. The CDC is encouraging healthcare providers to be vigilant for AFM among their patients, and to report suspected cases to their health departments. CDC has also cautioned people to: • Wash their hands with soap and water • Avoid close contact with sick people • Clean surfaces with a disinfectant, especially those that a sick person has touched.