Officials confirm Michigan's 1st case of rare acute flaccid myelitis for 2020

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A Macomb County child has contracted Michigan's first 2020 case of acute flaccid myelitis, state officials said.

They also said they are investigating two additional suspected cases of the rare disease, which affects the spinal cord.

“(Acute flaccid myelitis) is a rare but serious condition affecting the nervous system and can cause the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak,” Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health with the state's Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday in a statement. “Most patients report having a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM.”

The cause or trigger for AFM is not known, according to authorities. However, most children had a respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they developed the disease.

Officials said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the state agency about Michigan's first confirmed case of the year.

The CDC has confirmed 13 cases of AFM in 10 states for 2020, mostly in children, as of June 30, they also said. Despite increases in cases across the country since 2014, the CDC estimates that less than one to two in a million children in the United States will get acute flaccid myelitis annually. In 2018, Michigan reported five cases and one case in 2019.

Officials also said people can lower the risk of getting the disease by washing their hands often with soap and water, not touching their faces with unwashed hands and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez