Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) refers to a polio-like neurologic disease first reported in 2012 in California in a child with evidence of enterovirus D68 in the respiratory tract specimens (Van Haren et al., 2015). 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 weaken (NIH, 2018). This condition is not new. However, an increase in reported cases was observed in the late summer and fall of subsequent years, including 2014 when surveillance first started, 2016, and 2018 (McKay et al., 2018).
The risk of getting AFM varies by age and year. It mainly occurs in children and very rarely in adults. AFM cases have increased every two years since 2014, mostly in young children. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2019) estimates that less than one to two in a million children in the United States will get AFM every year. AFM is not contagious from person to person but may spread to humans from mosquitoes.