Updated
November 23rd, 2018

FDA Launches Acute Flaccid Myelitis Task Force

Most Acute Flaccid Myelitis patients had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM

Robert R. Redfield, M.D., announced the establishment of an Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) Task Force to aid in the ongoing investigation to define the cause of and improve treatment and outcomes for patients with AFM. 

AFM is not a new condition, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

However, the large number of AFM cases reported since 2014, when CDC first started surveillance for this condition, is new.   

Beginning in 2014, the United States has seen an increasing number of AFM cases, mostly in children. 

As of November 20, 2018, there have been 106 confirmed cases of AFM in 29 states. 

Just 5 of these confirmed AFM cases have been in adults over 18 years of age. 

AFM is a rare condition that affects a person’s nervous system, specifically, the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs, says the CDC.   

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The AFM Task Force will bring together experts from a variety of scientific, medical, and public health disciplines to help solve this critical public health issue. 

“I want to reaffirm to parents, patients, and our nation, CDC’s commitment to this serious medical condition,” said Dr. Redfield in a press release.   

“This Task Force will ensure that the full capacity of the scientific community is engaged and working together to provide important answers and solutions to actively detect, more effectively treat, and ultimately prevent AFM and its consequences.” 

The Task Force will convene under CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases’ Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) and will make key recommendations to the BSC to inform and strengthen CDC’s response to this urgent public health concern. 

While the CDC does not know the cause of these AFM cases, it’s always important to practice disease prevention steps, such as staying up-to-date on vaccines, such as polio. 

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