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Michigan has four cases of suspected acute flaccid myelitis

Fairfax County
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Poliovirus and West Nile virus may sometimes lead to AFM, so mosquito repellent may prevent the disease.

Four children in Michigan may have a rare condition known as acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

AFM affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs. The Centers for Disease Control says AFM is associated with viruses such as West Nile, poliovirus, and non-polio enterovirus.

Lynn Sutfin is a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  She says parents should seek medical care for children if they show symptoms.

"Some of those symptoms can include muscle weakness,  drooping of the face or eyelids, difficulty moving the eyes, or even difficulty swallowing or slurred speech," says Sutfin.

Sutfin says parents should protect their children against mosquito bites, and make sure they are up to date on their vaccines, as well as encourage frequent handwashing.

It will likely be several weeks before it's known if the cases are AFM, due to the difficulty of testing for it.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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