Will AFM Quickly Go Viral Like Microcephaly?

Will AFM Quickly Go Viral Like Microcephaly?

Nobody seems to know what is causing the “polio-like” condition known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). Public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keep stating they don’t know why healthy children are being randomly paralyzed around the country and scientists and medical doctors outside the nation’s top health agency are scratching their heads, too.

Everyone is perplexed about this mystery neurological illness that causes paralysis, mostly in children. “This is a mystery so far, and we haven’t solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.1 2

Thinking broadly. Now, that would be a good thing for a change. Most often when a mysterious illness emerges and public health officials and doctors are unable to immediately identify an obvious cause, the tendency is to focus on a virus that can be transmitted from human to human.

In 2016 during the big Zika scare, public health officials focused on a mosquito that they said could transmit a virus that infects humans. The CDC quickly determined within a few weeks that the cause of the sudden spike in infants born with microcephaly (small head size) in Brazil in 2015 was the Zika virus spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that, when it infects pregnant women, can cause their babies to be born with small heads and brain damage.3 4 5

In an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 13, 2016, Anthony Fauci, MD and David Morens, MD of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said there was a “lack of definitive proof of any causal relationship” between Zika and the microcephaly cases in Brazil.6 7

Throughout 2016, several studies conducted in Latin America and the United States either found no causal relationship between Zika and microcephaly or pointed to the possibility of toxic chemicals in the environment being the cause.8 9 10 11 12

Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the Zika-microcephaly connection and the fact that the apparent microcephaly epidemic in its very early stages, the CDC hastily announced on Apr. 13, 2016 that, “after careful review of existing evidence,” Zika was indeed “a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.” The CDC conclusion was based on a single paper written in a matter of weeks by four of its researchers.4 13

Note that only two months earlier, a World Health Organization (WHO) Zika situation report had stated, “No scientific evidence to date confirms a link between Zika virus and microcephaly.”14 And just previous to that, the CDC had stated, “Additional studies are needed to determine the degree to which Zika might be linked with microcephaly.”15

What happened to all those “additional studies”? Why was the CDC in such a rush to blame the Zika virus for the increased number of microcephaly cases in Brazil, particularly when there was credible research suggesting the microcephaly cases might be caused by toxic agricultural chemicals being heavily sprayed in the region (Pernambuco state) of the country most affected by the apparent epidemic?9

One possible answer can be found in a letter written by Tom Frieden, MD (then director of the CDC) and published as an opinion piece on Apr. 1, 2016. Dr. Frieden wrote:

At CDC, we are scaling up lab capacity to test for Zika infection and strengthening efforts to control the mosquito that spreads Zika. Faster diagnostics are needed, as are effective mosquito control strategies. We are working to further evaluate the relationship between Zika and microcephaly, as well as with other neurological conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome. With the National Institutes of Health as the lead and support from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), we are working to accelerate vaccine development to fully protect our future generations.

So without knowing for sure whether a mosquito-borne virus was causing the microcephaly, the CDC decided to “accelerate vaccine development to fully protect our future generations”? It appears that CDC officials were not thinking very broadly at the time, but rather were dead set on identifying a virus as the cause of microcephaly. Pointing the finger at a virus as the culprit of microcephaly would facilitate the move to develop a new vaccine and attract hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to fund the effort.18 Two weeks later, Frieden announced to the world that Zika was that culprit, and a few months after that the CDC had its money, and the Zika industry was born.13

Is microcephaly going to be the model for AFM? Despite Dr. Messonnier’s call for “thinking broadly,” is the CDC already considering finding an infectious virus to blame for AFM? After all, viruses are convenient scapegoats, particularly when health authorities are stumped about the cause of a mysterious illness and start to feel pressure to come up with an answer. Any answer.

A virus represents something tangible to combat against—to mobilize forces and develop a vaccine against. This, even though the reality is we carry lots of viruses within us that do not harm us in the least bit.19

According to the CDC, “There are a variety of possible causes of AFM, such as viruses and environmental toxins.”20

That is currently the agency’s official line on AFM, and the media is consistently relaying that position to the public. But there are already some signs that this may be changing. A recent article by Ed Yong in The Atlantic magazine is titled “The Main Suspect Behind an Ominous Spike in a Polio-Like Illness”. Its subheading is, “A common virus seems to be behind a puzzling condition that’s paralyzing children, but uncertainties remain.”21

Yong writes, “So far, most of the signs point toward a virus as the cause, and specifically some kind of enterovirus.” He quotes Roberta DeBiasi, MD of Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC as saying, “It’s not too far of a jump” to suspect a virus. Yong cites an enterovirus known as EV-D68 as having “emerged as the lead suspect.”21

Is a push for an AFM or EV-D68 vaccine in the offing? Is it inevitable?

Yet, it appears there is still a fair amount of disagreement within the medical community about whether the leading candidate for the cause of AFM—a virus—is contagious. On Oct. 29, 2018, CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD stated that whatever is causing AFM “doesn’t appear to be transmissible from human to human.” He added, “We don’t see clustering in families.”22


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AFM Investigation. CDC.gov.
2 Nedelman M. 155 cases of polio-like illness now under investigation, CDC says. CNN Oct. 23, 2018.
3 Cáceres M. CDC Bets Farm on Zika Based on Conclusion of Rasmussen, Jamieson, Honein & Petersen Paper. The Vaccine Reaction Sept. 10, 2016.
4 Rasmussen SA, Jamieson DJ, Honein MA, Petersen LR. Zika Virus and Birth Defects—Reviewing the Evidence for CausalityN Engl J Med 2016; 374:1981-1987.
5 Cáceres M. CDC’s Rasmussen Paper on Zika and Microcephaly: Poor Case for ‘Smoking Gun’. The Vaccine Reaction Dec. 20, 2016.
6 Cáceres M. Jumping the Gun on the Zika-Microcephaly Connection. The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 25, 2016.
7 Fauci A, Morens D. Zika Virus in the Americas—Yet Another Arbovirus ThreatThe New England Journal of Medicine Jan. 13, 2016.
8 Lopez-Camelo JS, Orioli IM. ECLAMC Final DocumentNature Dec. 30, 2015.  
9 Avila Vazquez M and Team REDUAS. REPORT from Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Villages regarding Dengue-Zika, microcephaly, and mass-spraying with chemical poisons. Red Universitaria de Ambiente y Salud Feb. 3, 2016.
10 Zika Virus May Now Be Tied to Another Brain Disease. American Academy of Neurology (press release) April 2016.
11 Bar-Yam Y, Evans D, Parens R, Morales AJ, Nijhout F. Is Zika the cause of Microcephaly? Status Report June 22, 2016. New England Complex Systems Institute.
12 CD Velho Barreto de Araújo T, Cunha Rodrigues L, Arraes de Alencar Ximenes R, de Barros Miranda-Filho D, Ramos Montarroyos U, Lopes de Melo AP, Valongueiro S,  Pessoa Militão de Albuquerque MF, Vieira Souza W, Braga C, Pinto Brandão Filho S, Tenório Cordeiro M, Vazquez E, Di Cavalcanti Souza Cruz D, Maierovitch Pessanha Henriques C, Albuquerque Bezerra LC, da Silva Castanha PM, Dhalia R, Torres Azevedo Marques-Júnior E, Turchi Martelli, CM. Association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in Brazil, January to May, 2016: preliminary report of a case-control studyThe Lancet Sept. 15, 2016.
13 CDC. CDC Concludes Zika Causes Microcephaly and Other Birth Defects. CDC.gov Apr. 13, 2016.
14 World Health Organization (WHO). Zika situation report. WHO.int Feb. 12, 2016.
15 CDC. Question and Answers: Zika virus infection (Zika) and pregnancy. CDC.gov.
16 Cáceres M. Dr. Frieden’s Zika Letter: A False Alarm? The Vaccine Reaction Apr. 6, 2016.
17 Frieden T. CDC Chief: Zika is coming. To fully protect Americans we must have the funds we needFox News Apr. 1, 2016.
18 Cáceres M. So What Became of the $1.9 Billion for Zika? The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 17, 2016.
19 Cáceres M. Viruses, Always the Easy Scapegoat. The Vaccine Reaction Feb. 3, 2016.
20 CDC. About Acute Flaccid Myelitis. CDC.gov. 
21 Yong E. The Main Suspect Behind an Ominous Spike in a Polio-Like Illness. The Atlantic Oct. 25, 2018.
22 CDC director says polio-like illness acute flaccid myelitis “doesn’t appear to be transmissible.” CBS News Oct. 29, 2018.

Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers.  The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.


11 Responses to "Will AFM Quickly Go Viral Like Microcephaly?"

  1. Tommie Suber   November 1, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Scientist and the CDC knew that the stopping of oral polio vaccine would cause an increase in acute flacid paralysis as the oral vaccine also prevented other entrovirus infections. The CDC thought that was preferable to the few polio cases from oral polio vaccine. They were most likely wrong as the polio cases could have been eliminated by first using IPV polio injection vaccine then followed by the oral vaccine.

  2. Tommie Suber   November 1, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    The CDC knew that there would be an increase in acute flaccid paralysis due to the discontinuation of oral polio vaccine.. This is because the oral vaccine prevented related entrovirus infection. Scientists at CDC gambled that this would be insignificant. They were wrong. We could have and should have continued injections of IPV vaccine followed by oral vaccine. This would have eliminated chances of live polio and prevented acute flaccid paralysis

  3. Sharon Sager   November 1, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you NVIC, for giving further information with this issue. You continue to help the public with informative articles, studies, information. I wish there was more education to the public–which could be distributed easily by the media– which could encourage health choices such as eating clean nourishing foods, drinking clean water, getting daily fresh air and sunshine, practicing regular healthy physical and mental activities, seeking sound rest and sleep habits, as well as seeking natural therapies that would aid our immune systems as well as our mental and other physical health, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, visualization, other natural therapies; in addition, it would be nice to see addition educating of the public to minimize or avoid sugar, processed foods, ingesting chemicals/toxins through eating-breathing-and in the environment. Thank you NVIC for voicing soundness in principles and educating people, and standing up for our rights….helping us to stand up for our rights too. The information regarding vaccinations and the concerns, as well as standing up for our freedoms of choice, are expanding to more people, and for this I am grateful and am thankful to lead others to your organization as well as to more health choices.

  4. W L Cimino   November 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Historically, long before antibiotics or vaccines, plagues, etc were conqured by our human immune system aided by improved sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition. Is it possible that AFM is directly due to polio/and other vaccine injections given to children? W. L. Cimino, MD

  5. Elijah Varga   November 1, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Oh yes, virus hunting is such a passionate past time activity among our scientists and researchers.The funds are met no worries, as long as they can blame by any viral bystander along the way and of course more money needed for developing a vaccine and of course mandated world wide vaccination campaign. Who could loose? Especially when even the WHO is sucked in by great philanthropies like Bill Gates the IMF and so standing behind in full readiness.The losers will be the masses, the sea of mankind. And it will serve a great favor for the Elite. – No?

  6. Robin   November 1, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    another big pharma scam in the making. These guys are pure EVIL. Don’t know how they sleep at night.

  7. D Germain   November 1, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    unbelievable…coming to conclusions without via proof or investigation. This will be our countries demise.

  8. marlene   November 1, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    “Nobody seems to know” or nobody wants to tell??

  9. marlene   November 1, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    Again, where’s my comment: “Nobody seems to know” or nobody wants to tell??

  10. Dee Lynn   November 2, 2018 at 12:04 am

    Has anyone looked at the vaccination records of these affected children?

  11. TL   November 2, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Yes, it seems quite convenient to blame a virus, eps when lots of money is at stake!


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