2008 December: President Obama nominates Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. 2009 Jan. 13: Reports say the clintonemail.com domain was established. Jan. 21: Senate confirms Clinton as secretary of state. March 18: Clinton will later name this as the date she began using a private server for government business. 2012 Sept. 11: Islamic extremists launch […]
[Above image: a non-polio enterovirus as seen under a microscope]
Today came yet another among many examples of the broken Freedom of Information FOI process: a letter from the government regarding my request for information about the deadly U.S. outbreak of Enterovirus (EV) D68.
EV-D68 is a polio-like virus linked to the deaths of at least 14 people in the U.S. since last August. Though far more deadly and pervasive than the recent U.S. measles outbreak that garnered much publicity, government officials have not promoted general public discussion or media coverage of EV-D68. And the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not been forthcoming about EV-D68’s potential link to at least 115 cases of paralysis, mostly in children.
On Oct. 9, I filed a FOI request for information about the mysterious outbreaks of these infectious diseases. FOI law requires a response within 20 business days.
Almost six months later, I’m still waiting.
That’s despite the fact that I had requested expedited processing offered under FOI law to journalists seeking information for a news story of public interest. Obviously, journalists reporting on a current story often need the information within a day or two. It doesn’t do much good to receive public information weeks, months or years after the story has been news.
From mid-August 2014 to January 15, 2015 at least 1,153 people in 49 states and the Washington D.C. were confirmed to have a severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68. Almost all of the cases were among children. Additionally, CDC reports “there were likely millions of mild EV-D68 infections for which people did not seek medical treatment and/or get tested.” The virus has been linked to at least 14 deaths.
Additionally, the CDC reports at least 115 children in 34 states have developed paralysis from Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM). The median age is 8. Only two of the children have fully recovered. A number of the paralyzed children had come down with EV-D68 immediately prior to being paralyzed by AFM. CDC would not answer questions about the potential link between the two diseases.
—————————————— Measles EV-D68+AFM
Cases 178 1,153
States 17 49
Paralysis n/a 115
Deaths 0 14
CDC hasn’t been forthcoming on many details of the EV-D68 epidemic or AFM paralysis cases. Without government officials offering up the story to the media, it hasn’t received much news coverage. It looks like more information isn’t coming anytime soon. On Feb. 28, I inquired about the status of my October request. It took more than a month to receive the answer (below).