DOH Urges Pennsylvania Physicians to be Vigilant for Cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Pennsylvania physicians are being encouraged to be continually vigilant for cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), according to a Sept. 2 alert by the state Department of Health (DOH). The alert was originally issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Following the increased number of reports of AFM among children who were received by the CDC from August-October 2014, the CDC has continued to receive sporadic reports of AFM. The apparent increase in AFM cases in 2014 coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among children caused by enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68), which resulted in an increased number of children hospitalized.

However, despite this close association in timing between the EV-D68 outbreak and the increase in AFM cases, an etiology for the 2014 AFM cases was not determined. As the increase in AFM cases started in August 2014, it is unclear if an increase could occur again this year, coinciding with enterovirus season.

Therefore, the CDC is re-emphasizing the importance of continued vigilance by clinicians for cases of AFM among all age groups, irrespective of enterovirus status. Reporting of cases will help states and CDC monitor potential increases in this illness and better understand potential causes, risk factors, and preventive measures or therapies.

The alert provides the following:

  • Status of the 2014 investigation
  • Information about revision to the AFM case definition
  • Recommendations for increased vigilance and reporting procedures
  • Recommendations for prompt specimen collection, and subsequent testing
  • Link to recommendations for clinical management and follow-up of patients

DOH wants to remind Pennsylvania providers to report any suspected cases to your local health department or the PA DOH at 1.800.PA.HEALTH.

You can subscribe to receive DOH alerts on the Pennsylvania Health Alert Network (PA-HAN) website.

More Information from the CDC
For general information about enterovirus infections, including EV-D68, and for up-to-date guidance about infection control measures, visit the CDC enterovirus website.

For information about poliovirus, visit the CDC poliovirus website.

For information about West Nile Virus, please visit the CDC West Nile Virus website.

State and local health departments with questions should contact the CDC Emergency Operations Center at (770) 488-7100.