First adult case of Acute Flaccid Myelitis in South Dakota has been confirmed

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Health (SD-DOH) is reporting its first case of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) this year.

The individual was reported to the Department of Health in November. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided expert consultation to help verify the diagnosis. The case is an adult who experienced a mild respiratory illness with fever prior to developing muscle weakness, for which they were hospitalized. Currently, South Dakota does not have any additional cases under investigation.

“AFM is a rare but serious condition, most often diagnosed in children, that affects the nervous system, causing muscles to weaken. Most cases of AFM had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they develop muscle weakness, but no specific cause has been identified,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist.

AFM symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs. Other symptoms may include:

  • Facial droop/weakness
  • Difficulty moving the eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

The Department of Health is working with the CDC to investigate and classify patients suspected of having AFM. In addition, the Department continues to remind healthcare providers about AFM and the need to report patients suspected of having AFM.

In 2018, there have been 165 confirmed cases of AFM in 36 states. These 165 confirmed cases are among the 320 total reports that the CDC received of patients under investigation. More than 90% of AFM cases have occurred in children less than 18 years of age.

AFM can develop as a result of a viral infection and individuals can take some basic steps in order to avoid infections and stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands frequently to limit your exposure to germs.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Stay up to date on vaccinations.

If parents see potential symptoms of AFM in their child, (for example, if he or she is not using an arm) they should contact their clinician as soon as possible. While there is no specific treatment for AFM, clinicians may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.

For more information about AFM, visit the Department’s website:

Information provided by the South Dakota Department of Health
Categories: Local News, South Dakota News