Stories by Eileen Drage O'Reilly

CDC sets task force on determining cause of rise in polio-like illness

Photo of xray images of several young children's spines with AFM
MRI of the spinal cord from 5 AFM patients. Photo: Van Haren K, Ayscue P, Waubant E, et al. Acute Flaccid Myelitis of Unknown Etiology in California, 2012-2015. JAMA

The cause of the mysterious polio-like illness that has infected and sometimes partially paralyzed a small but growing number of U.S. children — 33 suspected cases in the past week alone — continues to stymie public health officials, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What's new: The agency is forming a research-focused task force and has instructed states to better track patients to help determine the cause of the illness, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), that's now suspected to have afflicted 252 patients (90 confirmed) in 27 states so far in 2018, a CDC official said at a Tuesday press briefing.

Ebola treatment trials may begin, as worries grow over Congo outbreak

Data: Ministry of Health DRC; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

U.S. health officials may soon start trials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to test the efficacy of different Ebola treatments if they get the necessary approvals, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Axios.

Why it matters: The combination of violence against health care workers and the deadly virus caused the head of the Centers for Disease Control to issue a warning earlier this week that Ebola could become "endemic" to Congo. The only potential bright spot to a such a devastating outbreak would be testing experimental treatments to help indicate which ones actually work best, Fauci says.

It's complicated: How people first inhabited the Americas

Pre-Columbian archaeolgical burial site at Jiskairumoko, southeast of Puno, Peru.
One of the individuals encountered during excavation at Jiskairumoko, a pre-Columbian archaeological site southeast of Puno, Peru. The human remains have been removed in this image. From the Science Advances study. Photo: Mark Aldenderfer

In the largest examination to date of genetic material from ancient Americans, researchers found some genetic similarity among remains in Montana, Nevada and Brazil — showing there was likely a rapid migration of people from the tip of North America.

Why it matters: Researchers want to better understand how people first migrated, dispersed and settled into the different areas of the Americas. These genetic samplings — including some more than 10,000 years old — bolster some theories of what may have happened, but also bring forth new questions, particularly about new lineages that were discovered.

More stories loading.