With an increase in cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a debilitating, polio-like disease that has been affecting children in New York and across the country, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today called on Congress to immediately provide emergency funding for research, treatment, and prevention efforts against this disease. AFM is a rare condition that targets the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, and can cause serious muscle weakness or paralysis.
There is no known cause or treatment for this disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed or are investigating hundreds of suspected cases of AFM in 46 states and in DC. 90 percent of cases have been in children under the age of 18, with the majority of patients between the ages of two and eight.
On November 13th, the CDC announced a new task force to investigate AFM. As Congress finalizes the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bill, Gillibrand will call on Congressional appropriators to provide the emergency funding necessary to give the CDC the resources it needs to investigate, treat, and prevent this debilitating disease.
“As a mother and as a Senator, I am taking AFM extremely seriously. I’ve been disturbed to read reports about this debilitating disease that has been affecting children in New York and across the country. Parents are extremely worried about what this disease means for their children, but doctors still don’t know what causes AFM or how it spreads,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am calling on Congressional appropriators to include emergency funding to support the CDC’s efforts to learn more about AFM. I won’t stop fighting until the CDC has the support they need to keep our children healthy and safe.”
The number of cases of AFM are growing year after year. This increase in AFM cases over the last year is the third spike of AFM cases since 2014. In 2014, there were 120 confirmed cases of AFM, and two years later in 2016, there were 149 cases. Many of the affected children have had long-term paralysis or ongoing care needs. In the past, Congress provided emergency funding to support investigation and response efforts related to other serious diseases, such as Ebola, Zika, and Avian Influenza. As the number of cases of AFM continue to rise, Gillibrand calls on the Senate to do the same for this serious disease to help protect all children from AFM.