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First confirmed case of Acute Flaccid Myelitis reported in Nebraska

The first confirmed case of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a condition that causes muscle weakness, was reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services earlier this week.

The child, in the Sarpy/Cass Health Department jurisdiction, was hospitalized and later released.

Another reported case in Douglas County was not confirmed after a thorough review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The patient met some, but not all of the criteria for being a confirmed AFM case. One additional suspected case also in the Sarpy/Cass Health Department jurisdiction is undergoing further testing at the CDC.

“AFM is a rare but serious condition that affects mostly children and we’ve been watching closely for cases in Nebraska over the last four years,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, state epidemiologist for DHHS. “There is still a lot to learn about AFM and more study is needed. State and local health departments nationwide are working with federal partners to investigate cases and the possible causes.”

AFM is not a new condition, but the increase in cases nationwide starting in 2014 is new. From August 2014 through October 2018, there have been a total of 440 confirmed cases of AFM in the U.S.

DHHS started surveillance for AFM in 2014 after cases appeared in Colorado and made it a reportable disease in 2016. The department has shared information on recognizing, managing and reporting potential cases of AFM with health care providers and local health departments across the state.

Fast facts about AFM:

• AFM is a condition that generally causes sudden muscle weakness.

• Symptoms include sudden weakness in the arms or legs. Some people also experience drooping of the eyelids or face, difficulty moving eyes, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing.

• If parents see potential symptoms of AFM in their child, they should contact their health care provider promptly.

• Experts are working to determine the exact cause of AFM.

• There is no specific treatment for AFM or proven prevention strategy, but washing hands, covering your cough and staying home if you’re sick can help avoid illness.

• People, especially parents, may be concerned about AFM. The CDC offers helpful resources at https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/index.html.

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