CDC creates task force to address 'modern polio' cases
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established a task force to investigate an outbreak nationwide and in Southwestern Pennsylvania of a rare neurological disease that can lead to permanent paralysis.
The agency announced Monday the acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, task force will investigate the cause of the disease after 106 confirmed cases across the country this year, including six locally . Three additional cases are suspected to have been caused by AFM, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.
The task force also will work to improve treatment and outcomes for patients with AFM, which is a rare condition that affects less than 1 in 1 million people annually in the United States. It’s been dubbed the “modern polio” disease because it can cause lifelong severe muscle weakness, loss of coordination, paralysis and even death.
A rise in cases nationwide began in 2014, according to the CDC. This year, there have been 106 confirmed cases in 29 states. The majority of those cases have been in children.
Locally, five confirmed cases have been in residents of Allegheny County and one Washington County resident.
The three suspected cases occurred in one patient each who lives in Allegheny, Beaver and Westmoreland counties, according to the Allegheny County Health Department. Officials there said no connection has been made between any of the cases.
The CDC’s task force is expected to submit its first report Dec. 6.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, email@example.com or via Twitter @byrenatta.