Signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for when it comes to AFM

Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 18:07:42-05

Nebraska now has its first confirmed case of a rare polio-like illness that affects young kids. It's called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM.

Methodist infectious disease specialist, Jeffrey Sartin said AFM cases happen most in children under 18. But it is rare a child will get infected.

This confirmed case from the Sarpy Cass County area has some parents asking questions. “Is there gonna be some kind of vaccination what can we do to prevent it,” said mother of two, Laura Anderson.

Dr. Sartin said while he isn't worried about seeing many AFM cases there are basic symptoms parents should be on the lookout for. “The symptoms are usually of a respiratory infection so typical bronchitis, sore throat, things like that,” he said.

He said children will start to recover from a normal cold or infection within a few days. Parents should monitor those symptoms and be on the lookout for a combination of more serious physical effects. “These are symptoms of weakness like drooping eyes, problems swallowing or speaking, problems using your hands, problems walking,” said Dr. Sartin.

Anderson said she is concerned about her children getting sick. “I think it's scary, you always think you’re doing these vaccinations and you're not gonna have to worry about something as severe as polio so with those kind of strains I think as a parent you're worried,” said Anderson.

But other parents like Tom White said there are other things he is more concerned about. “There's so many more actual things to be afraid of, heart attack, cancer are so much more prevalent, it just doesn't hit the radar yet,” said White.

Dr. Sartin said during the winter months it is hard to protect children from getting sick, but parents should make sure their children are practicing simple hygiene like washing their hands, covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze and making sure they are up to date on their vaccines.

He said right now there is no cure for AFM and doctors can only treat symptoms that occur so if you start to notice your child is having problems speaking or swallowing get them to a doctor so they can be tested right away.