Illinois Department of Public Health Advisory: Update on Acute Flaccid Myelitis

UPDATE: November 7, 2018

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting that of the 16 people under investigation for Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) in Illinois this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed three cases, classified one as probable AFM, and declared two not to be AFM cases. Ten cases remain under investigation. The 16 individuals are from northern and central Illinois, and all but one patient is under 18 years of age. Additional information, including specific location, is not available.

IDPH continues to work with health care providers to collect necessary information to send to CDC, which reviews the information to confirm if the case will be classified as AFM. IDPH encourages providers to report suspected cases to their local health department.

AFM is a very rare neurological condition. The underlying cause(s) of AMF is not known. CDC has been actively investigating AFM and continues to receive information about suspected AFM cases.

More information about AFM, its causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment can be found on the IDPH website under diseases and conditions. Additional information on AFM can be found on the CDC website. Any further updates will be posted on the IDPH website.

October 31, 2018

The Illinois Department of Public Health has released an important health advosiry on Acute Flaccid Myelitis. The purpose of the advisory is to:

  1. To update clinicians on current AFM case counts nation and statewide.
  2. To provide information and resources regarding identification and management of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) cases (suspect and confirmed).
  3. To remind providers and local health departments to remain vigilant in identifying cases.

Download Complete IDPH Health Advisory on AFM 

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is an illness characterized by acute onset of flaccid limb weakness and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showing lesions in the gray matter of the spinal cord.  
2018 Update:
For the 2018 season, as of October 26, 2018, the CDC has received a total of 191 reports of Patients Under Investigation (PUI). Of these, the CDC has confirmed 72 cases of AFM from 24 states. Similar to prior years, the vast majority of cases have occurred in children.
As of October 30, IDPH is reporting 14 PUIs; CDC confirmation is pending for all 14. Statewide updates can be found at:  


Symptoms of AFM include:
* sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes,
* facial droop/weakness,
* difficulty moving the eyes,
* drooping eyelids, or
* difficulty swallowing or slurred speech

Diagnosis and Reporting For Clinicians:

Clinicians suspecting AFM in patients meeting the probable or confirmed case definition (irrespective of laboratory testing results) should report these cases to their local health department, or to the IDPH Communicable Disease Control Section at 217-782-2016.

  • Clinicians should consult with their clinical laboratory and local health department regarding laboratory testing of CSF, blood, serum, respiratory, and stool specimens for enteroviruses, West Nile virus, and other known infectious etiologies. (For further information, please see ‘Specimen Collection and Testing’ below.)
  • The CDC AFM Patient Summary Form should be completed for cases classified as confirmed or probable and submitted to their local health department via secure fax.
  • Clinicians or infection control practitioners should have access to enter reportable diseases into the Illinois National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (I-NEDSS). Those without access can report case information by fax or phone to their LHD and visit to sign up for I-NEDSS.
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