Lewiston teen continues recovery from paralyzing illness known as AFM


LEWISTON, Idaho -Dylan Wilkins still remembers what doctors and nurses told him when they discovered he had acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare illness that causes weakness in the arms or legs.

"One of the first things I got told is, 'There's nothing we can do for you, but we're not going to let you die.' I knew from then on, it was going to be a challenge, but I was ready for it," Wilkins said.

"The two things that were really bad were my left arm and my neck, my throat area. My trachea was paralyzed, so when I swallowed food, it'd go straight down my throat and would get stuck in my throat," he said.

Wilkins was diagnosed with AFM in 2016, but is still recovering from the mysterious disease that medical professionals know little about. The cause of most AFM cases are unknown, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Washington State Department of Health is investigating reports of six children who have been hospitalized after a sudden onset of paralysis of one or more limbs. The Department of Health is working with four public health agencies and experts in neurology from the CDC for confirmation of a rare illness known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

"There's so much unknown, there's nothing you can do. You have to keep working and be disciplined about it," Wilkins said.

Kim Papich, the public information officer for Spokane Regional Health District, said AFM was last seen in Eastern Washington in 2016, which was one case in Spokane. Papich said the best way to protect yourself from the disease is by washing your hands frequently, avoiding close contact with sick people and keeping areas as clean as possible.

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