Acute flaccid myelitis: Five things to know

  • Acute flaccid myelitis is characterized by rapid-onset muscle weakness, with patients presenting with weak limbs, pain and absent reflexes
  • Enteroviruses are the main cause of the disease in children
  • Urgent testing should be performed, including infectious workup and neuroimaging, and suspected cases should be reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Acute flaccid myelitis can progress rapidly and should be managed as a medical emergency
  • It often results in persistent health deficits 4-6 months after detection, with less than one-fifth of children making a full recovery, and 8%-14% needing assistive devices to walk or being completely dependent on caregivers.

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