A polio-like illness that paralyzes children is breaking out; here’s how to protect your child

This horrifying disease is on the rise.

A polio-like illness that paralyzes children is breaking out; here’s how to protect your child

This horrifying disease is on the rise.
  • A viral infection, called acute flaccid myelitis, that can potentially leave victims paralyzed has been reported in 24 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • This frightening disease is still rare - only 50 cases in the United States this year - but the number has more than doubled compared to the 21 occurrences last year.

  • One of these cases was Carter Roberts, a playful three-year-old who was suddenly unable to stand on his own or move his right arm, according to the family's support page, "Carter's Coalition."

  • Twelve hours after he was admitted to the ER, Carter fell unresponsive. Forty-eight hours after he was admitted, he was paralyzed from the nose down.

  • Although Carter regained control over the left side of his face and could wiggle his toes one month later, it's unexpected that the rest of his motor functions will return.

  • Carter Tough in action this morning. Thank you Aflac South Richmond Region!!!

    Posted by Carter's Coalition on Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • Advertisement
  • Carter's symptoms represent the common symptoms of AFM, which are most similar to the poliovirus and West Nile virus. They include:

    • Sudden weakness in the arms and legs

    • Loss of reflexes

    • Difficulty swallowing

    • Slurred speech

    • Drooping eyelids or other facial features

  • Or less common symptoms include

    • Numb limbs

    • Tingling or pain in the arms and legs

    • Inability to urinate

  • Although anyone is sucseptible to this disease, the average age of those who contract AFM is seven. There is still a lot of uncertainty about AFM and what exactly causes the disease, but the CDC warns to protect your child by:

  • Be up-to-date on vaccines

  • Having your children vaccinated for all recommended vaccines - especially poliovirus - can help prevent the rapid spread of disastrous diseases. Many of the vaccinations children receive act to prevent multiple diseases that are known to cause AFM.

  • Wear mosquito repellent

  • West Nile virus, a disease carried by mosquitos, is a known cause of AFM. Wear repellent and avoid being outside when mosquitos are active (in the early morning and evening).

  • Wash your hands often

  • Anytime you go to the bathroom, touch an animal, blow your nose or touch food, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Doing so can save you from contracting a whole world of diseases, including ones that can lead to AFM.

  • Avoid contact with those who are sick

  • As mentioned above, AFM can be contracted from many other ilnesseses and diseases. To protect yourself from AFM, stay away from or take caution around those who have any illness - not only those with AFM.

  • If you want to learn more about Carter's fight against AFM, visit his Facebook page.

  • Are you protecting your children from AFM?

Amberlee is the content manager for and earned a degree in journalism. She loves her family, the outdoors, baby foxes and podcasts.

Tell us your opinion

Have More Meaningful Conversations With Your Kids.

We’ll send the low-down on the hot topics your kids are talking about to your inbox every morning so you’re ready to talk with them.


Enter a valid email address (e.g. [email protected])

Thanks for subscribing to our email list. Please enjoy our latest articles.