There May Be A New Polio Epidemic On Its Way- If So, What We Can Do

This is Part I in a series on the enteroviruses that appear to cause a polio-like neurological disease, Acute Flaccid Myelitis. Reports of this life-threatening condition have increased within the US and elsewhere, and viruses from the same family as the poliovirus are implicated.

Most people have either lived through or heard horror stories of polio, a severe disease caused by the poliovirus which can cause paralysis or even death through infection of the spinal cord. Thanks to vaccines, the United States has been polio-free since 1979. However, there are other lesser known viruses that can cause similar life-threatening neurological conditions. Acute Flaccid Myelitis is one of these conditions, and there have been increased reports of cases in the US in the past 10 years.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) affects the nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord referred to as gray matter, and results in a weakening of the body’s muscles and reflexes. In serious cases this can lead to respiratory failure, as the patient’s muscles required for breathing are too weak and lifesaving mechanical support is required. Up to 90% of cases of AFM are seen in children, and there is no specific treatment or cure.

Originally published on Forbes on 6/10/22.  Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.