Klobuchar to CDC: Prepare for potential outbreak of rare disease that mostly affects children

Crystal Bui
Updated: August 07, 2020 10:18 PM
Created: August 07, 2020 09:41 PM

Sen. Amy Klobuchar sent a letter Friday urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to plan for a possible outbreak of a rare, polio-like illness that mostly affects children. It's called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

Larey Swanson's son was diagnosed with AFM back in September of 2014.

“It really has affected his life in every way. He is still paralyzed, his neck and his right arm,” Swanson said.

At that time, very little was known about AFM.

“He had stomach upsets and a low-grade fever. And several days following that, he developed neck pain and stiffness,” Swanson said.

The disease affects the nervous system and can cause muscle weakness or even paralysis. 

According to the CDC, there's a spike in cases every other year, and they expect one in the coming months.

There were 10 confirmed cases of AFM in Minnesota back in 2018 out of 238 in the country.

One case has been reported in Minnesota this year, and the Department of Health says cases spike between August and October.

Swanson and her family have been advocating for mandatory early reporting so that more can be learned about the causes and symptoms of the illness. They say the data can also help families find possible treatment options if there is early detection.

“Our family, along with several other families who have kids affected by AFM met with Klobuchar at Children's Hospital, and we emphasized for the need for mandatory reporting at the CDC. And at the time, she was very responsive,” said Swanson, who met with Klobuchar in 2018. “Considering all that's going on in the world today, in particular with the pandemic, there is a lot of fear out there, and I think that Craig and our whole family would say, this is not another thing to be fearful of, per say, but it's important to be educated about it, to understand it.”

View Klobuchar's full letter:

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