One suspected case of acute flaccid myelitis in Yakima - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

One suspected case of acute flaccid myelitis in Yakima

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YAKIMA, WA - The Washington Department of Health has notified local public health officials that there is one suspected case of acute flaccid myelitis in Yakima, WA.

The investigation is ongoing throughout the state of Washington as DOH and four other local public health agencies are investigating reports of eight children hospitalized for sudden onset of paralysis of one or more limbs. There is currently one confirmed case and seven suspected cases of AFM across Washington, all of which are among children who all reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM.

AFM is a rare condition that affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Symptoms typically include sudden weakness in one or more arms or legs, along with loss of muscle tone and decreased or absent reflexes. Often, no cause is found in cases of AFM.

"We have not yet found any clear connection or common source of illness for these cases, and the state Department of Health will continue to work closely with the CDC and local health agencies, providing new information as it is available," said Dr. Teresa Everson, Health Officer for the Yakima Health District. "For now, cases appear to be unrelated."

Some viruses and germs have been linked to AFM, including common germs that can cause colds and sore throats, and respiratory infections. It can also be caused by poliovirus and non-polio enteroviruses, mosquito-borne viruses (such as West Nile virus or Zika virus) and possibly by non-infectious conditions.

While there are no specificrecommendations for avoiding AFM, you can help protect yourself from some of its known causes by washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick people, and cleaning surfaces with a disinfectant, especially those that a sick person has touched.