CDC investigates 4 possible cases of polio-like illness AFM in Michigan

4 possible cases of acute flaccid myelitis reported in Michigan

DETROIT – There are four possible cases of a polio-like syndrome called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in the state of Michigan, according to the state's health department. 

One case is an adult male and the other three cases are children under the age of 18, according to Lynn Sutfin of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The cases were reported in Macomb, Oakland and Ottawa counties. The most recent case was reported in Oakland County.  

"It will be several weeks before any of the cases can be confirmed or not by the CDC," reads a statement from Sutfin. "We will continue to monitor cases and provide updates as necessary."

On Monday, federal health officials said they now have reports of 155 possible cases of AFM across the country. The CDC shows 62 cases confirmed cases in 22 states. This is a polio-like syndrome that causes muscle weakness and paralysis, according to the CDC. 

Oakland County Health Division said it is monitoring the nationwide occurrence of AFM and is providing guidance to local healthcare providers to assist in its diagnosis. 

According the Oakland County Health Division, AFM affects mainly children and is not believed to be contagious. It may be a rare complication following a viral infection, and environmental and genetic factors may also contribute to its development.

AFM symptoms may include: 

  • Sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs 
  • Difficulty moving the eyes 
  • Drooping eyelids or a facial droop/weakness 
  • Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech 

Since AFM may develop due to a viral infection, health officials recommend parents and children take basic steps to avoid infections and stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Stay up to date on vaccinations 
  • Protect yourself and children against mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing and using EPA-registered insect 

Here is how the CDC describes AFM: 

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare condition. It affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs. AFM or neurologic conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses and environmental toxins.

Since August 2014, CDC has seen an increased number of people across the United States with AFM. We have not confirmed the cause for the majority of these cases. CDC has been actively investigating these AFM cases, and we continue to receive information about suspected AFM cases.

  • Most patients are children.
  • The patients’ symptoms have been most similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, and West Nile virus.
    • All of the AFM cases have tested negative for poliovirus.
    • Enteroviruses most commonly cause mild illness. They can also cause neurologic illness, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and AFM, but these are rare.
  • CDC has tested many different specimens from AFM patients for a wide range of pathogens (germs) that can cause AFM. To date, no pathogen (germ) has been consistently detected in the patients’ spinal fluid; a pathogen detected in the spinal fluid would be good evidence to indicate the cause of AFM since this condition affects the spinal cord.
  • The increase in AFM cases in 2014 coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among people caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). Among the people confirmed with AFM, CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every patient. During 2015, CDC did not receive information about large EV-D68 outbreaks in the United States, and laboratories reported only limited EV-D68 detections to CDC’s National Enterovirus Surveillance System (NESS). During 2016, CDC was informed of a few localized clusters in the United States. Learn more about EV-D68.

For more information about AFM and how the CDC is investigating it, go here