New warning from CDC on polio-like virus impacting children

PITTSBURGH — A new warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about a troubling virus that's impacted some families in the Pittsburgh area.

Acute flaccid myelitis – or AFM – partially paralyzes children.

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There were more than 200 cases nationwide in 2018, and there have already been 19 cases this year.

One of the concerns about the disease is the symptoms, many of which young children may not complain about.

Doctors are encouraging parents to be vigilant when it comes to those symptoms, which are:

  • Sudden onset of arm or leg weakness
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone and reflexes
  • Paralysis


If your child has trouble playing with toys, picking things up, feeding him or herself or walking, you should contact your doctor immediately for testing.

Dr. John Williams, of UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, said most people may already be aware of those symptoms, but the new warning from the CDC is about timing and how quickly a child is seen by his or her doctor.

“One of the reasons the CDC is trying to educate the public and health care providers about AFM is so that as soon as it’s suspected, the appropriate test can be sent for testing by the CDC,” Williams said.


Williams said early testing can help identify the one or two viruses that cause most of AFM and that could lead to a vaccine.

For more information on AFM, CLICK HERE.