Acute flaccid myelitis and enterovirus D68: lessons from the past and present

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Acute flaccid myelitis is characterized by the combination of acute flaccid paralysis and a spinal cord lesion largely restricted to the gray matter on magnetic resonance imaging. The term acute flaccid myelitis was introduced in 2014 after the upsurge of pediatric cases in the USA with enterovirus D68 infection. Since then, an increasing number of cases have been reported worldwide. Whereas the terminology is new, the clinical syndrome has been recognized in the past in association with several other neurotropic viruses such as poliovirus.

Conclusion: This review presents the current knowledge on acute flaccid myelitis with respect to the clinical presentation and its differential diagnosis with Guillain-Barre syndrome and acute transverse myelitis. We also discuss the association with enterovirus D68 and the presumed pathophysiological mechanism of this infection causing anterior horn cell damage. Sharing clinical knowledge and insights from basic research is needed to make progress in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this new polio-like disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1305-1315
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number9
Early online date23-Jul-2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2019


  • Acute flaccid myelitis
  • Acute flaccid paralysis
  • Enterovirus
  • Enterovirus D68
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Poliovirus

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