Back in 2014, as Dr. Riley Bove’s family was just getting over a respiratory virus, her 4-year-old son suddenly developed some very scary symptoms. “He woke up with a paralyzed arm, neck and shoulder,” said Bove, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. “I got him right into care. Over the course of the next eight days he continued to get worse and was eventually paralyzed from the face down to his toes.”
It got so bad that the little boy needed help breathing, but after a stint in acute care and then two months in rehab, Bove’s son was finally able to walk on his own. He still has lingering issues from his experience with the polio-like illness called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)—a paralyzed right shoulder and a weak neck that requires him to wear a brace—but “he certainly had an amazing recovery,” Bove said.
The experience, along with stories she heard from other parents of children struck by AFM, prompted Bove and two other health care professionals to write an article they hope will sound an alarm that will spur the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and scientists from around the country to make a bigger push to better understand the condition.