Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a disabling, polio-like illness mainly affecting children. Outbreaks of AFM have occurred across multiple global regions since 2012, and the disease appears to be caused by non-polio enterovirus infection, posing a major public health challenge. Children’s National Hospital was part of a multi-center study focused on AFM and published in The Lancet.
Children’s National authors include Elizabeth Wells, M.D., director of Inpatient Neurology; Jessica Carpenter, M.D., director of the Neonatal and Childhood Stroke Program and co-director of the Neurocritical Care Program; and Roberta DeBiasi, M.D., M.S., chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases.
This review describes the epidemiology, clinical features, course and outcomes of AFM to help to guide diagnosis, management and rehabilitation. Future research directions include further studies evaluating host and pathogen factors, including investigations into genetic, viral and immunological features of affected patients, host-virus interactions and investigations of targeted therapeutic approaches to improve the long-term outcomes in this population.