Seven children have been diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) in Minnesota since mid-September
The disease is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system and can cause muscle weakness or even paralysis
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) continues to press the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information about the agency’s efforts to respond to the increasing number of children suffering from acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in a November 13 letter. There are now 80 cases of AFM that have been confirmed in 25 states. In the letter, Klobuchar raises concerns about the increasing number of children suffering from AFM and requests information about the research being done into causes and treatments as well as inquiring about the health care costs for families with a child who develops the condition and requires long-term health care services.
“While I appreciate your response to my previous letters and willingness to provide staff briefings, important questions remain regarding the CDC’s efforts to address the 80 cases of AFM that have now been confirmed in 25 states,” Klobuchar wrote in the letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield.
In October, Klobuchar sent a letter to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield requesting him to share the CDC’s plan to address the AFM infections in Minnesota and around the country and requested a Member-level briefing for senators by the appropriate agency personnel. Days later, Klobuchar joined U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Tina Smith (D-MN) urging the CDC to investigate and respond to recent cases of AFM.
The full text of today’s letter can be found below:
Dear Director Redfield:
I write to express my ongoing concern about the continuing rise in the number of children suffering from acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), and to request an update on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) progress in working to identify the etiology of AFM and issuing updated clinical guidelines for treatment.
While I appreciate your response to my previous letters and willingness to provide staff briefings, important questions remain regarding the CDC’s efforts to address the 80 cases of AFM that have now been confirmed in 25 states. Accordingly, I respectfully request answers to the following additional questions:
- The CDC has identified many possible causes of AFM. Is there an update as to whether the CDC has identified a common etiology for the confirmed cases of AFM?
- Which states have reported cases of AFM, and what is the breakdown of cases for each state? Do you have any other information as to the geographic areas that have been more affected by AFM? Which states mandate reporting of potential AFM cases to the CDC? Do these or other states only require AFM reporting if an illness is first identified as an outbreak by state and local health departments or other state authorities?
- Concerns have been raised that AFM may be under-reported. Does the CDC have a view as to whether incidences of AFM are currently being under-reported? If so, what factors contribute to the potential incidence of under-reporting?
- Is the CDC working with scientific experts to consolidate the existing research on AFM from various universities and other research institutions in an effort to provide both the families of those affected by AFM and clinicians the most updated information?
- When will the CDC issue updated clinical guidance on the treatment of AFM?
- I understand that you recently expressed support for the establishment of a task force to assess and respond to the recent increase in AFM cases. What would be the benefits of a task force like the one you described, and has the CDC taken action to establish such a task force? If not, would the CDC need additional authority, funding, or resources to convene a task force?
- A child who became paralyzed from AFM recently underwent an innovative surgery that established connections between newly transferred nerves and the affected muscles, ultimately enabling the child to walk again. Has the CDC studied the safety and efficacy of the procedure for potential use in treating other former AFM cases? What diagnostics and other tools are the CDC and other agencies exploring to enable the earlier detection of AFM and potentially minimize the impact of the condition once it is discovered?
- Does the CDC have an estimate of the overall financial burden of AFM to a family with a child who develops the condition and requires long-term health care services?
Thank you for your continued work to ensure that vulnerable young patients battling AFM and their families have hope for the future. I look forward to your response.