As of September 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 89 cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), also often referred to as Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), a neurological disease whose symptoms resemble those of poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses, but for which no cause or treatment is known.
The CDC recorded its first case of AFM in August of 2014. Through December 2014, there were 120 people confirmed with AFM onset in 34 states. In 2015, 15 people across 16 states presented with AFM. New statistics show a surge in 2016, with 89 people across 33 states confirmed to have AFM through September.
Admittedly, the CDC is in the early stages of gathering information about AFM and is monitoring disease activity, investigating cases, risk factors and causes of the mystery illness. Based on AFM's statistics, most patients are children with an average age of seven years whose symptoms mirror those of polio and non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses and West Nile virus
. The 2014 identification of AFM coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), although the CDC said detection of the EV-D68 pathogen was not clear and consistent among all the AFM specimens.1
"It is biologically plausible that EV-D68 could have caused the cases of AFM in 2014, as other enteroviruses have been demonstrated to cause AFM. Also, EV-D68 has been previously identified in clinical specimens from a few patients with AFM. In those cases, however, it is not clear whether the presence of EV-D68 was a coincidence or whether it was the cause of the AFM," the CDC stated.2