When my oldest child fell off of a 2-foot ledge at 9 months old, I anxious for months afterward.
As AFM cases have surged in the fall - the third spike since 2014 - federal health officials and clinicians across the country have raced to understand the underlying cause of the disease.
I am not alone. For the past four years, the CDC said 90 percent of AFM patients "had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they developed AFM". A total of 299 possible cases had been referred to the CDC this year, as of November 30. An additional 165 cases are still under investigation. In 2016, the number shot back up to 149 confirmed cases, only to drop again in 2017 to 33 confirmed cases. This year's outbreak appears to be in keeping with those trends. The children with definitive AFM also had many white blood cells in their spinal cords, and less protein in their cerebral spinal fluid than the children with alternative diagnoses. Now there is no effective treatment for AFM beyond physical therapy. Experts believe AFM is due to a virus or viruses, which is similar to polio. More than 400 confirmed cases, a lot of them in children, have been reported in the past four years, and one child with AFM died last year.
While 18 new cases have been confirmed since last week, the CDC says the rate of reported cases has slowed, and that most people recently diagnosed with AFM became sick in September or October, suggesting that fewer new illnesses are emerging.
So, what can be done? Nevertheless, most experts believe viruses are causing the rare condition.
Vaccines are in the works for two of the viruses with suspected links to AFM - enterovirus A71 and enterovirus D68.
But for these or other vaccines that could possibly prevent AFM to be studied or produced in the US, scientists first would have to be fairly certain that these were the culprit strains of the current outbreak.
Dr. Marc Siegel explains the condition and what parents should know.
And so we worry.