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Acute Flaccid Myelitis in the United States: 2015-2017.

Pediatrics 2019 November
BACKGROUND: Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a neurologic condition characterized by flaccid limb weakness. After a large number of reports of AFM in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began standardized surveillance in the United States to characterize the disease burden and explore potential etiologies and epidemiologic associations.

METHODS: Persons meeting the clinical case criteria of acute flaccid limb weakness from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2017, were classified as confirmed (spinal cord gray matter lesions on MRI) or probable (white blood cell count >5 cells per mm3 in cerebrospinal fluid [CSF]). We describe clinical, radiologic, laboratory, and epidemiologic findings of pediatric patients (age ≤21 years) confirmed with AFM.

RESULTS: Of 305 children reported from 43 states, 193 were confirmed and 25 were probable. Of confirmed patients, 61% were male, with a median age of 6 years (range: 3 months to 21 years; interquartile range: 3 to 10 years). An antecedent respiratory or febrile illness was reported in 79% with a median of 5 days (interquartile range: 2 to 7 days) before limb weakness. Among 153 sterile-site specimens (CSF and serum) submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coxsackievirus A16 was detected in CSF and serum of one case patient and enterovirus D68 was detected in serum of another. Of 167 nonsterile site (respiratory and stool) specimens, 28% tested positive for enterovirus or rhinovirus.

CONCLUSIONS: AFM surveillance data suggest a viral etiology, including enteroviruses. Further study is ongoing to better characterize the etiology, pathogenesis, and risk factors of this rare condition.

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