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On My Mind
November 30, 2018

A Parental Perspective on Strengthening Knowledge After Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Weill Institute for the Neurosciences, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2Seattle University, Seattle, Washington
  • 3Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Sylmar
JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(2):127. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.4893

We write as nurses, advocates, physicians, and most importantly as parents who are joined through our children’s experience with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in the United States in the last decade. In 2012, neurologists in California reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a strange cluster of non–polio-associated AFM cases, characterized by virus-associated injury to the motor neurons in the spinal cord.1 At the time, the CDC felt that these cases did not exceed the very low expected background rate of AFM associated with nonpolio viruses. Certainly, more than 60 years ago, parents feared the warm summer months because they carried the risk of infection by the polio enterovirus. But thanks to the 1953 discovery of a polio vaccine, poliomyelitis rates plummeted. The affected children aged. As a consequence, most physicians, nurses, and physical therapists trained in the United States have never seen a case of pediatric AFM.

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