NIH researchers call for more research into rare, polio-like illness

More research must be done to better understand acute flaccid myelitis, three researchers from the National Institutes of Health wrote in an op-ed published in Clinical Science and Epidemiology.

The op-ed's authors are:

  • Anthony Fauci, MD, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md.
  • David Morens, MD, senior scientific adviser of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Gregory Folkers, chief of staff for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

In the article, the researchers outlined current options for treating AFM and discussed the need for additional research into the illness, which primarily affects children. 

"The trajectory of AFM over the past 5 years suggests that the problem is getting worse, and so it is critical that we galvanize our efforts to learn more about, and respond adequately to, this ubiquitous, often crippling, continually reemerging group of viruses," the researchers wrote.

Their call for more research comes after the U.S. saw a significant spike in children contracting the rare, polio-like illness last year. The CDC confirmed 228 AFM cases in 41 states, up from just 35 cases in 2017. Cases have spiked every other year since 2014. The cause of the illness is still unknown.

To view the full op-ed, click here.

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