Dangers of the Modern World

Grind for November 24th, 2018
“The future is no more uncertain than the present.”
– Walt Whitman

A Good Idea

The Headline

Trump Administration establishes cybersecurity agency

The Grind

President Trump last Friday signed legislation to establish a new federal agency devoted to the protection of US infrastructure.

The move comes four months after officials confirmed that Russia had hacked the US power grid.

The Implication

The new agency – called CISA – will be tasked with defending US infrastructure from cyber and physical attacks.

The agency will also be responsible for:

— Protecting government websites

— Keeping the government up-to-date on all things related to cybersecurity

— Making sure all non-government cybersecurity partners are prepared for an attack

— In the event of an attack, CISA will coordinate response efforts and facilitate communication.

In the meantime, officials haven’t determined whether or not Russia still has control over parts of the US power grid.

Medical News

The Headline

CDC Reports: Polio-like virus infects kids in 22 states

The Grind

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare neurological condition that causes muscle loss and weakened reflexes. The disease has been compared to polio because it primarily affects children and can result in paralysis.

The CDC reported a sharp uptick in the number of AFM cases last week, confirming 62 of 127 suspected cases in 22 states so far this year.

The average AFM patient is just 4 years old.

The Details

AFM has been on the rise ever since the CDC started tracking it in 2014.

“We understand that people, particularly parents, are concerned about AFM,” says CDC official Nancy Messonnier. “There is a lot we don’t know about AFM, and I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven’t been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness.”

Symptoms of AFM include:

— Facial droop/drooping eyelids

— Loss of muscle tone

— Slow reflexes

— Sudden weakness

— Difficulty swallowing

— Slurred speech

While most cases of AFM occur following a fever or respiratory illness, the exact cause of the disease remains unknown. Doctors also don’t know how to prevent AFM, how it spreads, or what factors might increase a person’s risk of developing it. The only treatment for AFM is physical therapy.

As Messonnier points out, parents should remember that AFM affects less than 1 in 1 million children.

“As a parent myself, I understand what it’s like to be scared for your child,” says Messonnier. “Parents need to know that AFM is rare even with the increase in cases we are seeing now.”

While doctors have no idea how to prevent AFM, the CDC recommends basic healthy habits including vaccinations, hand washing, and the regular disinfection of toys and frequently touched surfaces.

Did you know… The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.