The Odessa Record -

Acute flaccid myelitis found in Spokane Co.


SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane Regional Health District is reporting that a Spokane County child, a male under the age of 10, has acute flaccid myelitis. The diagnosis was confirmed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the only organization equipped to rule in or rule out the disorder.

It is a rare syndrome with no specific cause, as is the case with the report in Spokane County. It is not contagious. The condition affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Symptoms typically include sudden weakness in one or more arms or legs, along with loss of muscle tone and decreased or absent reflexes.

According to the CDC, the syndrome is one of several conditions that can result in neurologic illness with limb weakness. Such illnesses can result from a variety of causes, including viral infections, environmental toxins, genetic disorders and autoimmune disorders. Oftentimes, however, despite extensive laboratory testing, a cause for the syndrome is unable to be identified.

“We wish we had specific recommendations for families who are concerned about this devastating syndrome, but there is not enough known about its causes,” said Dr. Sam Artzis, the Spokane district interim health officer. “Some children with the syndrome recover, but unfortunately many do not. Obviously our hearts are with this family.”

At this time there is no known connection between this case and other confirmed cases in Washington, according to the Washington State Department of Health. Nationally, the CDC is investigating an increase in the syndrome in 2016 and intensifying its efforts to understand its causes and risk factors. One possible reason for the increase in cases is more awareness among, and reporting by, health care providers and health departments. According to the CDC, 89 people in 33 states were confirmed to have the syndrome as of September 2016.

Even with an increase in cases in 2016, acute flaccid myelitis remains a very rare syndrome – fewer than one in 1 million individuals will be affected. There were no cases of the syndrome reported in Washington state in 2015, and in 2014 there were two.

Spokane Regional Health District joins medical providers, its partners in public health across the state, the Dept. of Health and the CDC in continuing to monitor for and investigate the syndrome and help investigate its underlying causes.

More information is available at, as well as on the CDC’s website at The Spokane Regional Health District’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about its efforts and triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.


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