The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis are expected to decline after cases increased in the U.S. this year.

A Gallatin County resident was confirmed as having a case of Acute Flaccid Myelitis in October. This was 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 media outlets in November. The confirmed case involved an adult, according to Ebelt.

The CDC says it is likely that the number of persons under investigation for AFM has peaked and will continue to decline for the rest of 2018.

So far in 2018, 134 cases of AFM have been confirmed in 33 states out of 299 cases reported to the CDC. That is a significant jump from the 33 confirmed cases in 2017.

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.

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