Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) Information for Families

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare but serious condition affecting the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. AFM causes weakness in the body’s muscles and reflexes.

If you see potential symptoms of AFM in your child, (for example, if he or she is not using an arm), contact your health care provider right away.   

AFM is a reportable condition in Georgia. Your child's doctor should contact the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) if they suspect AFM. DPH will then begin a case investigation.

Case Investigations 

These are the steps to AFM investigations: 

  1. Doctors report suspect AFM cases to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) or their patient’s local public health office. Public health and DPH work with doctors to collect case medical information and specimens. DPH shares information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to complete AFM investigations.  
  2. CDC may do enterovirus testing with specimens from suspect AFM cases. Any available test results will be sent to the reporting doctor. CDC may also do research or additional testing with specimens to look for possible causes of AFM  
  3. After identifying information (ex: name and home address) is removed, case information is sent securely to CDC. Neurologists at CDC review the medical information and classify cases as confirmed AFM, probable AFM, suspect AFM, or not AFM.   
  4. Case classifications are reported back to public health by CDC and then provided to cases’ doctors. It may take a few weeks for case classifications to become available. This is because in depth review of the medical information is needed. Since this can take time, doctors should not wait for the case classification to provide a diagnosis.
    1. The case classification might be different from the diagnosis made by a patient’s doctor. Patients should always refer to their doctor for information on their medical care.   
    2. At this time, there are no specific recommended treatments for people diagnosed with AFM. As we learn more about AFM, suspect cases’ diagnosis and recommended treatments might change.  
  5. To help us learn more about how long-term effects of AFM, DPH will contact confirmed and probable AFM cases. Public health will call to do a short interview at three time points: 60 days, 6 months, and 12 months after the AFM illness began. 

Resources for Patients and Caregivers 

Page last updated 08/26/2021