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CDC Expects Outbreak Of Rare, Serious Neurological Condition In 2020

cdc aug05 lt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an alert saying that it expects an outbreak of a rare, serious paralyzing condition that mostly affects young children this year.

Since 2014, outbreaks of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) have occurred in the United States every 2 years.

CDC said it anticipates that 2020 will be another peak year for AFM cases. The next outbreak could occur between August and November, according to the federal health agency.

Acute flaccid myelitis is an uncommon but serious neurologic condition. It affects the nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak.

Enteroviruses, particularly enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68), are likely responsible for these peaks in cases.

CDC released a new Vital Signs report to alert health care providers to a possible outbreak this year.

This report reveals a delay in care that occurred for some patients in 2018. 35 percent of patients were not hospitalized until two or more days after limb weakness. AFM can progress rapidly over the course of hours or days, leading to permanent paralysis and/or the life-threatening complication of respiratory failure in previously healthy patients, so delays in care can be serious.

CDC called upon parents and doctors to suspect AFM in patients with sudden limb weakness, especially during August through November. Recent respiratory illness or fever and the presence of neck or back pain or any neurologic problems could be its symptoms.

It urged pediatricians and frontline providers in emergency departments and urgent care centers to be prepared to quickly recognize symptoms of AFM and immediately hospitalize patients.

"As we head into these critical next months, CDC is taking necessary steps to help clinicians better recognize signs and symptoms of AFM in children," said CDC Director Robert Redfield. Recognition and early diagnosis are critical in saving the patients, according to him.

CDC notes that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, "If social distancing measures decrease circulation of enteroviruses this year, AFM cases may be fewer than expected or the outbreak may be delayed".

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