A Gallatin County resident has been confirmed as having a case of Acute Flaccid Myelitis. The first confirmed case of AFM in Montana since 2015, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Department spokesman Jon Ebelt confirmed the news to the Montana Standard this week.

An additional suspected case of AFM in Montana is being investigated by the CDC.

The confirmed case and the suspected case both involve adults, according to Ebelt.

AFM is a rare illness that affects the nervous system, specifically an area of the spinal cord, which causes a person's muscles and reflexes to become extremely weak.

The symptoms include:

  • facial droop/weakness
  • difficulty moving the eyes
  • drooping eyelids
  • difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech

Numbness or tingling are rare symptoms in people with AFM, although according to the health department, some people have pain in their arms or legs.

The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure, which can occur when the muscles used for breathing get weak.

Exact causes of AFM are not well known to experts, but health officials suggest that people wash their hands regularly with soap and water and stay up to date on all vaccinations.

AFM is diagnosed by taking a patient’s signs and symptoms into consideration, MRI images and any laboratory evidence.

Although there is no specific test to diagnose AFM, it is important that the tests are done as soon as possible after the patient develops symptoms.