First case of rare disorder confirmed in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (Valley News Live) North Dakota's Health Department has confirmed the first case of a rare nervous system disorder that has affected dozens of children around the country.

Officials say a suspected case of acute flaccid myelitis has been confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The child was hospitalized in October and has since been released.

The rare condition causes arm and leg muscles to weaken. Sometimes it is preceded by a viral infection, but there is no specific cause.

There have been 134 confirmed cases in 33 states this year. Most of the people affected have been children.

AFM is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system, causing muscles in the arms and legs to weaken.

It can be a complication following a viral infection, but environmental and genetic factors may also contribute to its development. Other symptoms include:

• Neck weakness or stiffness

• Drooping eyelids or a facial droop

• Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech

Many infected individuals have reported respiratory illness in the week prior to the onset of AFM symptoms. It is important to note that although colds are common this time of year, developing AFM is extremely rare.

If people notice potential symptoms of AFM, (for example, if someone is not using an arm) they should contact their health care provider as soon as possible.

Because AFM can develop because of a viral infection, the NDDoH recommends everyone take basic steps 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.