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Home > Health Library > Acute Flaccid Myelitis
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare condition that affects the spinal cord. It causes certain muscles and reflexes in the body to stop working normally. Anyone can get AFM.
Experts are still doing research to find the exact cause of AFM. It may be linked to certain viruses. This includes the West Nile virus and ones that can cause other illnesses, such as colds or rashes.
The main symptom is weakness in one or more arms or legs, with a loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Other symptoms may include:
Symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis usually come on suddenly.
Severe cases may cause respiratory failure, since the condition may affect muscles used for breathing.
A doctor will do a physical exam to check for weakness, such as in the arms and legs. The doctor may also do tests such as an MRI or tests to check the spinal fluid.
There is no specific treatment to cure acute flaccid myelitis. But doctors can give treatment to help manage the symptoms. You may get physical or occupational therapy to help regain function in your arms and legs.
For severe AFM that causes problems breathing, you will get care in the hospital. This includes treatment that helps you stay hydrated, gives you nutrition, and helps you breathe.
More information about AFM is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis to learn more.
You can take steps to help protect yourself and your family from viruses and infections that may be linked to acute flaccid myelitis.
Current as of:
April 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: April 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
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