STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

CDC escalates response to polio-like illness AFM

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has escalated its response to the polio-like illness that'...

Posted: Nov 20, 2018 10:10 PM
Updated: Nov 20, 2018 10:10 PM

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has escalated its response to the polio-like illness that's struck children in 29 states, increasing the number of disease detectives in its Atlanta headquarters from two to 16, according to a CDC official close to the investigation.

The job of the detectives -- formally known as Epidemic Intelligence Service officers -- is to collect data on acute flaccid myelitis, known as AFM, and try to identify the cause of the outbreak. Currently, the cause is unknown, and there's no treatment and no vaccine.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Diseases and disorders

Epidemics and outbreaks

Government organizations - US

Health and medical

Neurological disorders and injuries

Public health

US Department of Health and Human Services

US federal departments and agencies

AFM is a rare illness that affects the nervous system, especially the gray matter in the spinal cord, and causes muscle weakness and sudden onset of paralysis. There's a spectrum of how children can be affected: Some regain the use of their paralyzed limbs, while others are paralyzed from the neck down and can breathe only with the help of a ventilator.

The official said there was an "urgency" to the situation. "It was clear in October that we needed more staff to do the critical response," the official said. "We're pulling together the extra people, the extra minds, the extra resources, the extra activities."

In a CNN story last month, parents of children with AFM and some of the CDC's own medical advisers criticized the agency for being slow to respond to the outbreak.

Jeremy Wilcox, whose 4-year-old son was diagnosed with AFM in September, organized a meeting last week between parents and a top CDC official. He said he welcomed the stepped-up response. "This is very encouraging to hear the CDC has escalated their response, drastically increasing the resources to responding to AFM," he said. "This is a drastic difference."

Overall, the number of CDC staffers working full-time on the disease has more than doubled from 21 to 44 since the middle of October, according to the official.

This year, there have been 106 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis and 167 possible cases, according to the CDC. Since 2014, there have been 430 confirmed cases of the rare disease. Ninety percent of them have been in children.

The new levels of staffing are part of an "escalation" on AFM not seen in previous years, the official said.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield announced Monday that the agency had created the Acute Flaccid Myelitis Task Force to aid in the investigation. The task force will bring together experts from various fields in medicine and public health to try to find the cause of AFM and improve treatment.

The official said it would take time to answer some of the most crucial questions about AFM. Though experts think it's caused by a common type of virus, it's not clear why most people who get the virus recover easily while others become paralyzed.

"I would hate to promise parents that it's going to be solved in a short time, because this is not something easy, or we would have solved it," the official said.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 80°
Florence
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 73°
Fayetteville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
Scottsboro
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 54768

Reported Deaths: 1096
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
Clay852
Fayette851
Coosa661
Cleburne451
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 61960

Reported Deaths: 741
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby13594224
Davidson13309143
Rutherford360239
Hamilton336438
Sumner194556
Williamson176316
Knox16209
Trousdale15105
Out of TN141610
Wilson118717
Putnam10197
Bradley9724
Robertson94813
Sevier9123
Unassigned8902
Montgomery7787
Tipton6987
Lake6960
Bledsoe6291
Bedford6249
Macon6037
Hamblen4744
Maury4623
Hardeman4184
Fayette3705
Madison3632
Rhea3430
Blount3393
Loudon3282
Dyer2923
McMinn28419
Cheatham2753
Dickson2750
Washington2620
Lawrence2396
Cumberland2214
Sullivan2214
Anderson2002
Jefferson1871
Lauderdale1824
Gibson1811
Smith1602
Monroe1556
Greene1512
Coffee1430
Cocke1380
Hardin1287
Warren1270
Obion1243
Haywood1213
Marshall1182
Franklin1163
Wayne1160
McNairy1071
Carter1052
Giles1051
Hickman1050
Marion954
Hawkins912
Lincoln870
White863
DeKalb850
Roane850
Henderson740
Weakley741
Overton731
Campbell701
Chester690
Claiborne680
Grundy652
Unicoi580
Grainger560
Polk550
Crockett543
Henry530
Carroll521
Cannon500
Sequatchie490
Humphreys472
Jackson470
Johnson460
Meigs380
Perry380
Morgan321
Decatur290
Scott280
Fentress270
Stewart260
Union240
Moore210
Clay200
Houston200
Benton151
Hancock120
Lewis110
Van Buren90
Pickett70

 

 

Community Events