What We Are Learning

CDC and our partners are learning from every case of AFM. It is important for us to receive all medical information to give us a better picture of how people develop AFM.

Our surveillance, laboratory testing, and research have all led to important answers about this illness. In order to better understand AFM, CDC and our partners

  • examine the medical records of each patient suspected to have AFM
  • test specimens collected from that patient
  • analyze patterns of the time of year when people get AFM and outbreaks occur
  • explore possible treatments and ways to prevent it
  • consult with experts and educate healthcare providers
  • research why some people get AFM while others do not
  • monitor patient outcomes from this illness

What we don’t yet know

What we are doing to get answers

What we don’t yet know

The reason some people are at risk of getting AFM while most others are not

What we are doing to get answers

We are

  • Interviewing 2018 confirmed AFM cases to identify potential common exposures prior to limb weakness.
  • Investigating a possible immune response in AFM patients.
  • Looking to see whether there is a genetic predisposition for some people to be more susceptible for limb weakness than other.

What we don’t yet know

The long-term patient health outcomes and recovery from AFM

What we are doing to get answers

We are

  • Determining a patient’s level of recovery at 2, 6, and 12 months after limb weakness began. We are currently interviewing confirmed and probable cases from 2018 and will be interviewing all cases moving forward.
  • Collaborating with the National Institutes of Health natural history study of children recently diagnosed with AFM to better understand clinical symptoms, risk factors, and outcomes of patients with AFM.

What we don’t yet know

The relationship between AFM and viruses, including enteroviruses

What we are doing to get answers

We are

  • Partnering with colleagues and commercial laboratories to analyze patterns in the United States of enterovirus infections and AFM cases.
  • Conducting enhanced AFM surveillance in seven pediatric academic centers. These centers conduct active surveillance for gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses and will now conduct active surveillance for AFM to help understand how often AFM occurs in non-outbreak years and compare the seasonal pattern of AFM to the seasonal pattern of viruses.
  • Working with partners to examine the presence of enterovirus antibodies in the spinal fluid of AFM patients.
  • Developing EV-D68-specific laboratory tests to look for evidence of exposure to virus in patients and examine national trends in EV-D68 exposure.
  • Generating laboratory cell models and genome sequences to understand how EV-D68 causes AFM.

What we don’t yet know

How to treat and prevent AFM

What we are doing to get answers

  • NIH is studying the treatment and outcomes of patients, which may shed some light on what treatments are effective.
  • NIH is working to develop a vaccine for enteroviruses because we know that infection with enteroviruses is one of the things that can cause AFM.
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If you have questions about AFM, email us at AFMquestions@cdc.gov.