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Sen. Gillibrand Wants Colleagues to Approve Emergency Funding for Mysterious Polio-like Disease


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is urging congress to quickly fund research of a polio-like disease that's affected hundreds of children across the country.   Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM, is a respiratory disease that can cause paralysis or even death, mainly among children ages two to eight. 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says cases of the mysterious disease have spiked over the past three years.

"Parents are extremely worried about what this disease means for their children.  The CDC has a responsibility to give them answers.  The good news is that the CDC just announced they are creating a task force to research AFM and track it.   Now Congress needs to make sure that they have the funding to get the job done.”                                               

There is no known cause or treatment for AFM and Gillibrand says the circumstances are similar to other recent diseases that have received billions in congressional funding such as Ebola or the Zika virus.

"We're asking for $1 billion, which is about the same amount that we got for Ebola and Zika.  Ebola we gave $1.1 billion, Zika $1.1 billion, and influenza Congress gave $3.3 billion in emergency funding.”                                 


Since 2014 there have been 430 confirmed cases of AFM across the nation, although just two confirmed cases in New York State. Time is quickly running out for Gillibrand, who currently has no co-sponsors to secure emergency funding by  year’s end.

"There's a number of spending bills we have to pass before December 7th, so I'm hoping in the next two weeks we can get a little traction for this.  I'm sure if I provide the data to each senator about how many cases they have in their state, they'll be made more aware about how serious this is, and how worried parents are.”                         

Gillibrand says there are several cases still being investigated by the CDC and fears that many children have already died or been paralyzed in unconfirmed cases of AFM.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at