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Acute flaccid myelitis: Five things to know

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Acute flaccid myelitis, a syndrome with rapid muscle weakness in children, has been seen in hospitals in the United States and Canada this fall. A practice article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) outlines five things to know about this health issue:

  • Acute flaccid myelitis is characterized by rapid-onset muscle weakness, with patients presenting with weak limbs, pain and absent reflexes

  • Enteroviruses are the main cause of the disease in children

  • Urgent testing should be performed, including infectious workup and neuroimaging, and suspected cases should be reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada

  • Acute flaccid myelitis can progress rapidly and should be managed as a medical emergency

  • It often results in persistent health deficits 4-6 months after detection, with less than one-fifth of children making a full recovery, and 8%-14% needing assistive devices to walk or being completely dependent on caregivers.


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