The effects of a new debilitating virus that has “polio-like” symptoms spreading throughout the United States has been underestimated and under-reported thanks to voluntary reporting requirements and testing protocols that have been deemed substandard.
The NY Daily News reported that children in 22 states have been affected by the condition as health authorities continue to assess its spread and effects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not known as a bastion of truth, says that so far this year there have been 62 confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis. The first known outbreak of the virus occurred in 2014 but has since reemerged as authorities identified and confirmed 50 cases of the condition between August and October in even-numbered years, the paper reported online.
The condition very often begins as what appears to be a respiratory infection but progresses from there very quickly. Over the course of just a few hours, patients have increased difficulty breathing as one or more limbs become paralyzed and they develop a “flaccid weakness,” according to medical definitions of AFM.
The exact cause of the condition is not known but scientists and health professionals say it can be triggered by viruses, genetic disorders, and environmental toxins.
“I think the challenge is that we haven’t found one specific virus that is causing these complications,” Dr. Devorah Segal, a pediatric neurology expert at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, told the Daily News.
“I don’t think we really understand why there have been peaks at these two-year intervals.”
Doctors and scientists also do not know what the long-term effects of AFM are, according to a CDC info page on the condition. The poliovirus, as well as non-polio enteroviruses, are believed to be the most likely causes of the condition. (Related: CDC vaccine scientist who downplayed links to autism indicted by DOJ in alleged fraud scheme.)
In all, the CDC says, it has received 155 reports of AFM nationwide. In 2017, the agency found 33 confirmed cases; in 2016 there were 149 confirmed cases, with 22 in 2015. Most patients are children.
Enterovirus 68 is believed to be one of the primary causes of AFM, the agency notes:
The increase in AFM cases in 2014 coincided with a national outbreak of severe respiratory illness among people caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). Among the people confirmed with AFM, CDC did not consistently detect EV-D68 in every patient. During 2015, CDC did not receive information about large EV-D68 outbreaks in the United States, and laboratories reported only limited EV-D68 detections to CDC’s National Enterovirus Surveillance System (NESS). During 2016, CDC was informed of a few localized clusters in the United States. Learn more about EV-D68.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters last week, “CDC has been actively investigating AFM, testing specimens and monitoring disease since 2014, when we first saw an increase in cases.”
She added, that “most AFM cases occur in the late summer and fall,” but the CDC has not found any geographic clustering or other “unifying factor to explain the peaks,” which seem to occur every other year, CNN reported.
Messonnier added that AFM can be hard to diagnose because symptoms mimic “many of the same symptoms as other neurological diseases.”
“This is a mystery so far, and we haven’t solved it yet so we have to be thinking broadly,” she added.
Some patients recover very quickly, but others do not, health officials said, which is making the origins, physiology, and disease processes even more difficult to solve or predict.
One thing’s for sure, AFM is spreading far faster than is being reported, and it’s likely going to spread farther before it recedes again — if it does at all.
Read more about the CDC’s dishonesty and faulty science at CDC.news.