ON ALERT

CDC Ramps Up Response to Polio-Like Outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised its response to a polio-like illness that has stricken children with paralysis in 29 states. Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is not a new disease, but the frequency of reported cases has increased drastically since 2014 when the CDC first started investigating the illness. The CDC has hired 14 new “disease detectives”—Epidemic Intelligence Service officers—to try and identify the cause of the outbreak. AFM presents as a muscle weakness and sudden onset of paralysis, some children regain the use of their paralyzed limbs, while others never do. The CDC has been criticized by parents of children affected by AFM and some of their own medical advisers for their slow response to the outbreak. “It was clear in October that we needed more staff to do the critical response,” a CDC official close to the investigation said. “We're pulling together the extra people, the extra minds, the extra resources, the extra activities.”