CDC needs emergency funds to fight rare spinal cord illness, Gillibrand says

Health officials are dealing with more than a hundred cases of a polio-like illness across the United States in 2018. Now a lawmaker from New York wants to bolster funding to the CDC to figure out what is going on.

The CDC is tracking 116 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis in 31 states, including six in New Jersey and two in New York. AFM has mostly afflicted children. In the most severe cases, the illness can leave a patient paralyzed. The agency has been monitoring cases of the rare condition since a noted spike in 2014

In a letter to Senate and House appropriations leaders, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, called for them to approve emergency funding for the CDC's "AFM investigations, treatment, and prevention efforts."

"It's a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord—we call it the nervous system," Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a family physician and an associate professor at Rowan University, told Fox 5. "And in children, which is where we're mostly seeing this condition, it's caused symptoms such as weakness of the arms, weakness of the legs, droopy eyelids, problems swallowing and things of that nature."

From August 2014 through November 23, 2018, the CDC recorded 440 cases of AFM across the country. The illness could have many causes, officials said, such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders.