With all the attention to being given by the media and state legislatures to measles these days, it easy to overlook the mysterious polio-like disorder known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) that continues to affect children in the United States and other countries. Last year, there were a total of 230 confirmed cases of AFM in 41 states in the U.S.1
On Dec. 3, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that it “appeared” that the number of reported cases of AFM had “peaked” for the year.2 There were also many media reports toward the end of 2018 citing public health officials and physicians who believed that AFM cases would dramatically decline in 2019 based on the apparent cyclical nature of the illness. It was assumed that since there were 120 confirmed cases of AFM in 2014, followed by 22 cases in 2015, 149 in 2016, 35 in 2017 and more than 200 in 2018 that there would be a dramatic drop in AFM cases in 2019.3
An article in The Dallas Morning News stated, “Experts say we should expect the condition to return again in 2020, following a pattern of sickening patients every other year from summer through fall.”4 That prediction may have had the effect (intentional or not) of lulling Americans into a false sense of temporary security, thus easing public pressure on those investigating the cause of AFM to quickly come up with an answer and a remedy.
By the start of 2019, it seemed evident that the AFM story, which had so dominated the news headlines in 2018, was old news and the media was being given free reign to focus on a new public health crisis du jour. (By the way, whatever happened to Zika?) Since January it’s all been about measles and how the disease threatens to spread and wipe out the human race.
It is this amplified fear of measles that has been glommed on by the vaccine industry and many state legislators to ensure passage of laws that force everyone to get vaccinated with every single vaccine recommended by the government—no exceptions, no exemptions and no delays. Laws that eliminate medical informed consent rights when it comes to vaccination and essentially transfer control over a person’s bodily autonomy to the government. This should scare and enrage every American.
As Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has warned:
Today, there is no greater threat to liberty in America than the government enforced use of pharmaceutical products, such as vaccines, sold by corporations for profit that can both harm individuals and can fail to work at all. Our natural right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is being violated when government health officials enlist doctors and politicians to track down and coerce us into injecting ourselves and our children with biological products that carry significant health risks for some without our voluntary, informed consent.5
How convenient not to have to worry about AFM, or the ever-increasing autism epidemic, which now effects one in 40 American children,6 or the obesity epidemic, or the Alzheimer’s epidemic, or the diabetes epidemic, or the opioid epidemic, and on and on—diseases, illnesses and disorders that severely harm and kill millions of people in the U.S. each year.
And the panic is about… measles? Less than 900 cases in a country of nearly 330 million people.
For the record, AFM has not gone away, and public health officials are aware that, if anything, the number of cases of this disorder may grow significantly. “Don’t assume that it’s going to stay at a couple of hundred cases every other year,” says Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.7
As of the first week of May 2019, there have been seven confirmed cases of AFM in seven states (California, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia) this year, and an additional 27 reported cases of AFM are under investigation.1
What is particularly worrisome, though, is that the disorder remains such a mystery. Despite a highly speculative theory that AFM might be linked to a virus known as Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68),8 9 10 the disorder has public health officials, doctors and infectious disease specialists completely stumped. This could help explain the seeming overreach on measles. Perhaps a case of overcompensation in one area for an uncomfortable feeling of paralysis in another?
The thinking could go something like this: “Okay, we really don’t know what’s up with AFM, but look at how we’re saving the country from measles!”
This article or 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.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AFM Confirmed U.S. Cases. CDC.gov
2 CDC. Weekly Update for Number of U.S. AFM Cases: 2018 case count appears to have peaked. CDC.gov Dec. 3, 2018.
3 Cáceres M. Will AFM Cases Decline in 2019? The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 16, 2019.
4 Kuchment A. Researchers fear wider spread of paralysis linked to virus. The Dallas Morning News Dec. 29, 2018.
5 Fisher BL. Vaccines & Liberty: Let Freedom Ring. NVIC Newsletter June 29, 2011.
6 National survey of parents identifies 1 in 40 children with autism. Autism Speaks Nov. 26, 2018.
7 Learning English. US Officials Worry Condition Disabling Children May Be Spreading. Voice of America Apr. 14, 2019.
8 Cáceres M. AFM Not Transmissible from Human to Human Says CDC. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 7, 2018.
9 Cáceres M. Under Siege by Critics, CDC Moves to Blame a Virus for Polio-like Cases of AFM. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 14, 2018.
10 Adalja AA. Q&A: Is the CDC’s delay in linking AFM to EV-D68 warranted? Healio Apr. 18, 2019.