Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare but serious condition; one that strikes fear into the hearts of parents and providers alike. AFM affects the nervous system, specifically the gray matter of the spinal cord, which results in the presenting symptoms of a flaccid paralysis.
This condition is not new. Acute flaccid myelitis appears to be caused most often by viruses, especially EV-D68, which is a member of the polio family. Although poliomyelitis has been mostly eradicated worldwide, in recent years large outbreaks of the related enterovirus 71 has been seen in Asia-Pacific countries. This virus, that some have coined “the new polio” mostly affects children, manifesting as hand, foot, and mouth disease, aseptic meningitis, poliomyelitis-like acute flaccid paralysis, brainstem encephalitis, and other severe systemic disorders.
In today’s episode we are joined by Kevin Messacar, MD to talk through the most common presentations and treatment of enterovirus infections. Dr. Messacar is both an Infectious Disease Specialist and Hospitalist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Messacar's interview in this episode is expressly his own and not on a behalf of the professional organizations he serves.