Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Updated November 14, 2018

This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to receive information about cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a serious condition that causes weakness in the arms and/or legs. The Mississippi State Department of Health continues active surveillance for cases of interest of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

The specific causes of most AFM cases are still being investigated. The CDC has not determined the causes of most of these AFM cases despite extensive lab testing. All of the AFM cases have tested negative for polio virus. There are several possible causes of AFM such as viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders. According to the CDC, AFM may also result when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys body tissue that it mistakes for foreign material.

AFM is a rare but serious condition. We are working closely with health care providers and the CDC to get more information.

AFM Cases in Mississippi

Mississippi AFM cases in 2018 (as of November 14, 2018):

  • Mississippi confirmed cases of AFM: 1
  • Mississippi AFM cases under investigation: 0

Mississippi AFM cases in past years:

  • 2014: 0
  • 2015: 0
  • 2016: 6
  • 2017:0

MSDH will continue to actively investigate patients of interest for AFM, send samples to the CDC for testing, and monitor disease activity. MSDH will continue to work with our health care professionals to increase awareness, provide guidance, and submit samples to the CDC to conduct lab testing to better understand the AFM cases, risk factors, and possible causes.

Health Care Providers


Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system, causing muscles to weaken. AFM may be caused by a variety of germs (including viruses), environmental factors and genetics. For additional information, see the following:


Most patients will have a sudden onset of weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes in the arms and legs. Some patients, in addition to the limb weakness, may experience :

  • Neck weakness
  • Facial droop or weakness
  • Difficulty moving the eyes
  • Drooping eyelids or difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech

Contact your health care provider as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms in your child. For example, if your child is not using their arm or leg normally.

What you can do

Take these basic steps to help keep you and your family healthy:

  • Wash hands frequently to limit exposure to germs
  • Cover coughs or sneezes
  • Stay home when sick
  • Make sure you and your family are up to date on vaccinations
  • Take steps to prevent mosquito bites. Some mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus, can cause symptoms similar to AFM.

Health Care Providers

  • Be vigilant for and immediately report any patient you suspect as having AFM to MSDH within 24 hours (regular hours, nights, weekends and holidays) to the reporting hotline of 601-576-7725 or 1-800-556-0003.
  • Refer to the CDC’s Interim Considerations for Clinical Management of Patients with Acute Flaccid Myelitis released November 7, 2014.
  • Consider consulting with infectious diseases and neurology experts to assist with diagnostic and treatment recommendations.

Information for clinical guidance, surveillance, testing, and reporting information for health professionals.

Last reviewed on May 13, 2022
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Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U Contact and information

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