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South Dakota Patient Under Investigation for Acute Flaccid Myelitis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 19, 2018

CONTACT: Joshua Clayton (Joshua.Clayton@state.sd.us), (605) 773-3737 



South Dakota Patient Under Investigation for Acute Flaccid Myelitis


PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Health is investigating the first person reported with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in the state this year. The individual under investigation is a young adult and experienced a mild respiratory illness with fever prior to developing muscle weakness, for which they were hospitalized.


 “AFM is a rare but serious condition, most often diagnosed in children, that affects the nervous system, causing muscles to weaken. Most cases of AFM had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they develop muscle weakness, but no specific cause has been identified,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist.  

AFM symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs. Other symptoms may include:

  • Facial droop/weakness
  • Difficulty moving the eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

The Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate and classify patients suspected of having AFM. In addition, the Department continues to remind healthcare providers about AFM and the need to report patients suspected of having AFM.


In 2018, there have been 106 confirmed cases of AFM in 29 states. These 106 confirmed cases are among the 252 total reports that the CDC received of patients under investigation. More than 90% of AFM cases have occurred in children less than 18 years of age.

AFM can develop as a result of a viral infection and individuals can take some basic steps in order 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.

If parents see potential symptoms of AFM in their child, (for example, if he or she is not using an arm) they should contact their clinician as soon as possible. While there is no specific treatment for AFM, clinicians may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis.

For more information about AFM, visit the Department’s website: https://doh.sd.gov/news/acuteflaccidmyelitis.aspx


Preventing and controlling infectious disease is one objective of the Department of Health’s 2015-2020 strategic plan, http://doh.sd.gov/strategicplan.


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