CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – The CDC is warning parents about a potential outbreak of the Acute Flaccid Myelitis disease in children.
Acute Flaccid Myelitis or AFM is a rare neurological disease that affects the spinal cord and usually peaks in the United States every 2 years.
Doctors say the disease mostly affects children and can cause paralysis within hours or days.
“Children get a virus like a euro virus that causes a cold. Then their body has an immune system reaction to the virus and it leads to the body essentially attacking itself in that part of the spinal cord. Specifically where the motor neuron cells are in the gray matter of the spinal cord. That causes those cells that send the signals to that part of the body to not be able to send signals then they become weak,” says Dr. Thomas Ireland, Erlanger Pediatric Neurologist.
Doctors say if you notice a child not moving one of their limbs, displaying weakness in the face, or unable to lift their head , head to the emergency room immediately-as early treatment is key.
“The sooner you recognize the signs of what it is and the sooner you take your child to the emergency room, the sooner it can be diagnosed. The sooner treatment can get started. We do know fast treatment may help improve the outcome of the illness,” says Dr. Ireland.
Officials say that although the illness is expected to peak this year, they are hopeful that with the CDC coronavirus guidelines already in place, the spread will be significantly smaller this year.
“I think that in this pandemic hopefully mitigate this virus by what we are already doing. Things like washing your hands, staying away from people who you know are sick. There is a good reason why infectious disease experts recommend all these things. It’s for our health and safety,” says Dr. Ireland.
Doctors say that most cases appear during the months of August through November.
For more information on this serious illness visit the CDC’s website.