Oct 17, 2018

"Mystery illness" flummoxes CDC

Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “frustrated” by the mysterious spread of an illness similar to polio, cases of which have now been confirmed in 22 states. Seems like a very reasonable cause for frustration, to be honest.

By the numbers: 127 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been reported so far in 2018, including 68 confirmed cases, according to CDC data. There were 33 confirmed cases last year.

  • AFM affects the spinal cord and causes partial paralysis, similar to polio, especially in children.
  • The disease remains extremely rare — less than one in 1 million people contract it, CDC says — but cases have been spreading since 2014 and health officials don’t know why.

"We have not been able to find a cause for the majority of these AFM cases," the CDC’s Nancy Messonnier said yesterday, via STAT. "There is a lot we don’t know about AFM and I’m frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven’t been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness."

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Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

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GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

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