Grassley, Ernst, Senators Press CDC for Information on Recent Infections of Rare, Polio-Like Illness
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa joined Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith of Minnesota in sending a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging them to investigate and respond to recent cases of AFM, a serious nervous system condition that causes patients’ muscles to weaken and other polio-like symptoms. On October 5, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced that AFM has infected six Minnesota children since mid-September, and on October 10, another case was discovered in Iowa. In the letter, the senators asked CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield to share the CDC’s plan to address these increased reports of AFM and accurately track diagnoses.
“In recent weeks seven children have been diagnosed with AFM in Minnesota and Iowa, including two children who required treatment in the intensive care unit for respiratory support,” the senators wrote. “Because the causes of AFM are unknown, we urge the CDC to provide more information immediately about preventive measures and treatments.”
The full text of the letter can be found below:
Dear Dr. Redfield,
We are writing to understand what steps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking to investigate the recent increased reports of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). In recent weeks seven children have been diagnosed with AFM in Minnesota and Iowa, including two children who required treatment in the intensive care unit for respiratory support.
The CDC has acknowledged that 362 cases of AFM have been reported since 2014. AFM causes patients’ muscles to weaken and symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs, neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech. These symptoms are similar to polio or the West Nile Virus. Because the causes of AFM are unknown, we urge the CDC to provide more information immediately about preventive measures and treatments.
We appreciate the CDC’s ongoing work to address AFM. To better understand the challenges and opportunities regarding the federal government’s efforts toward AFM, we request your response to the following questions:
- What initiatives are underway to accurately track AFM diagnoses?
- What initiatives are underway to research the causes of and treatments for AFM? Please describe any collaborative efforts between CDC and other relevant government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.
- Please describe how is CDC is coordinating with the health departments of affected states and providing timely information to physicians and hospitals who are on the frontline of AFM?
We respectfully request that you provide answers to these questions no later than close of business on October 16, 2018.