Prevention from Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Prevention from Acute Flaccid Myelitis
21.12.2023

As researchers don’t know what specifically triggers acute flaccid myelitis, there’s no known way to prevent it.

Viruses, including enteroviruses, can lead to AFM. There are steps you can take to lower your risk of getting sick from a virus, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating, after using the bathroom, after touching an animal and after taking care of someone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay up to date on recommended vaccinations.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that you frequently touch.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the prognosis for acute flaccid myelitis?

As acute flaccid myelitis is a newly recognized condition, researchers don’t yet know the long-term prognosis (outlook) for people with the condition.

Most people continue to improve over time with ongoing physical therapy. Less than 10% of people with AFM recover completely.

What are the possible complications of acute flaccid myelitis?

AFM can affect the muscles you need to breathe properly. This can result in respiratory failure, which is a medical emergency. People with respiratory failure require machines to help them breathe. About a third of people with AFM require intubation and ventilation.

AFM can also cause serious neurologic complications, such as body temperature changes, blood pressure instability and irregular heart rate, which can be life-threatening.

Get medical care as soon as possible if you or your child experience these symptoms.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

If you or your child have sudden muscle weakness in one or more limbs, seek medical care as soon as possible. AFM can progress quickly and lead to issues with breathing.

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If you or your child have a diagnosis of AFM, you’ll need to see your healthcare team regularly to receive treatment, such as physical therapy, and to monitor your symptoms.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

It’s important to seek immediate medical care if you or your child have sudden muscle weakness. Researchers and healthcare providers are still learning about acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), but know that they’ll carefully monitor your symptoms and suggest treatments to manage them.

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