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Fifth muscle weakness illness confirmed in Nebraska

February 16, 2019

A fifth confirmed case of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a condition that causes muscle weakness, has been confirmed in Nebraska.

It was reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the organization announced Friday in a release.

The child, in the Douglas County Health Department jurisdiction, was hospitalized and later released.

DHHS has shared information on recognizing, managing and reporting potential cases of AFM with health care providers and local health departments across Nebraska.

There is nationwide focus on AFM and state and local health departments are working with federal partners to help find answers. Every case reported undergoes a thorough investigation and extensive diagnostic testing which will help pinpoint exactly what’s causing this disease and how it can be prevented.

Facts about AFM:

* AFM is a rare but serious condition that affects mostly children and generally causes sudden muscle weakness.

* Symptoms include sudden weakness in the arms or legs. Some people also experience drooping of the eyelids or face, difficulty moving eyes, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing.

* If parents see potential symptoms of AFM in their child, they should contact their health care provider promptly.

* Experts are working to determine the exact cause of AFM.

* There is no specific treatment for AFM or proven prevention strategy, but washing hands, covering your cough and staying home if you’re sick can help avoid illness.

* People, especially parents, may be concerned about AFM. The CDC offers helpful resources at https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/index.html.

For Nebraska-specific case updates, go to http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/AFM.aspx.

* AFM is not a new condition but the increase in cases nationwide starting in 2014 is new. There have been a total of 537 confirmed cases of AFM in the U.S. starting in August 2014 to now.

DHHS started surveillance for AFM in 2014 after cases appeared in Colorado and made it a reportable disease in 2016.