Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)

UPDATED 2/4/20

There was an increase in reported AFM cases in the fall of 2018, with 237 cases confirmed of the 385 reports of patients under investigation (PUIs) received by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2019, there were 139 reports of PUIs, 37 of which were confirmed in 17 states. So far in 2020, there have been no confirmed cases. AFM is a condition that affects the nervous system and it is likely that viruses play a role in the development of AFM. CDC is working with states to confirm these cases and is conducting extensive laboratory testing. Parents should make sure they and their children do basic things to stay healthy, such as: wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay home when sick.

The human nervous system

What's the situation in Kansas?

  • Kansas reported one confirmed case of AFM in 2018.
  • KDHE is investigating one person with symptoms consistent with AFM.
  • KDHE and CDC use a standard definition for surveillance purposes and classify potential cases of AFM by thoroughly reviewing medical and radiologic information.
  • Classifying these cases can take some time to complete due to the complexity of this condition, to collect and test clinical specimens, and collect clinical information that is reviewed by a panel of experts.
  • Clinical diagnosis, management, and treatment of patients should not rely on the case classification process.

What is AFM?

  • Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare, but serious, condition.
  • It affects the nervous system, specifically an area of the spinal cord called gray matter, which causes muscles and reflexes to become weak.
  • AFM mainly affects children.
  • Viruses, including enteroviruses, likely play a role in AFM. More than 90% of patients with AFM had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they developed AFM.

Are these cases related to Polio?

  • While AFM can be caused by the polio virus, CDC is currently reporting that none of the recent cases have tested positive for the polio virus.

How many cases of AFM do we typically see each year in Kansas?

  • We typically have had between 0 and 2 cases a year since 2014 when surveillance for AFM began. AFM became a reportable disease in Kansas on May 11, 2018. All suspect cases should be reported within 24 hours to KDHE or your local health department.

What is KDHE doing about this?

  • KDHE is working to educate providers on what to look for and actions to take if a patient comes to them with symptoms.
  • Once a suspect case is reported to KDHE, we work closely with health care providers to coordinate the collection of specimens and additional clinical information.
  • KDHE has been in contact with CDC to make sure we have the most up-to-date information on AFM and we will facilitate the shipment of specimens to CDC for lab testing as needed.
  • KDHE will continue to investigate cases and share information as needed.

Information for Parents/Caregivers

  • Symptoms
  • Prevention
  • Seeking healthcare
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment

Information for Healthcare Providers

  • Reporting
  • Diagnosis
  • Testing
  • Treatment

Cases of AFM are required to be reported to KDHE upon suspicion


Where can we find more information about AFM?

For additional questions, call the KDHE Epidemiology Hotline at 877-427-7317.

For media questions, please email