Cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a polio-like illness that causes limb weakness and facial droopiness in children, baffled doctors when it first showed up in 2014. After six years, illness rates dwindled in 2020.

Dr. Sunil Sood, a pediatrician who specializes in infectious disease at Northwell Health, said the small number of cases is largely because of COVID-19 mitigation strategies, like wearing masks and social distancing. 

Other respiratory viruses, like the flu, have also had a low-key season relative to other years.

"Almost every other virus that is transmitted among people have gone into hiding," Sood told Insider. 

Read More: The pandemic is damaging kids' mental health. Here's how parents can help.

Sood cautioned that once COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and people start to mingle, AFM and other respiratory viruses will return. 

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