Nine children across the state have been hospitalized at Seattle Children’s over the past several weeks with symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare syndrome that causes varying degrees of paralysis. Three of the children are currently hospitalized, five have been released and one has died, the Washington State Department of Health announced last week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that eight of the nine children have AFM. The CDC is the only entity that can make the diagnosis, and there is not a single test for AFM; rather, it is diagnosed by symptoms as well as lab and imaging tests.
Although the exact cause of AFM is unknown, common germs are known in some cases to lead to the development of AFM. None of the Washington State cases are thought to be linked to Polio, and public health professionals have said vaccines do not seem to cause AFM.
Basic precautions against AFM include washing hands and avoideding contact with those who are sick. (Tim Pfarr)