CDC warns of increase in rare pediatric condition during Fall

Amanda Aguilar Image
Friday, September 16, 2022
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out a warning about a rare virus that could be on the rise in young children this fall.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out a warning about a rare virus that could be on the rise in young children this fall.

The cold and flu can trigger acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. It's a severe illness, similar to polio, that affects the nervous system -- causing muscles and reflexes to weaken.

"It's typically weakness in one of the limbs, arms, legs," said Dr. Nael Mhaissen at Valley Children's Hospital. "Sometimes, it also can affect the nerves within the face. So we have seen some cases where children show up with droopy eyelids, for example, facial droop, slurred speech."

According to CDC data, as of September 14, there are 14 confirmed cases of AFM in the United States -- with six of them in California.

Thankfully, Valley Children's hasn't seen a case since 2018.

Dr. Nael Mhaissen said it is a rare condition, but it's something to be aware of because there's no cure.

"Unfortunately, it lasts for a long time. There are several treatments that are proposed to handle to manage this condition but mainly, it's physical therapy," said Dr. Mhaissen.

He suggested paying close attention to children recovering from the cold or flu. If they show any signs of weakness in their limbs or face, go to a doctor immediately.

Health experts still don't know why it affects children more than adults, but said prevention is similar to all other common viruses -- wash your hands, sanitize shared surfaces and stay home if you feel sick.