Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy Month

5/1/2014

WHEREAS, Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML), also known as Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalitus, is a rare and potentially fatal viral disease characterized by the destruction of cells that produce myelin (a substance that protects nerve cells), causing progressive damage or inflammation of the white matter of the brain and spinal cord; and 

WHEREAS, PML is caused by Polyomavirus JC, commonly known as the JC virus, which is carried by a majority of people and is harmless except among those with lowered immune defenses; and  

WHEREAS, PML can occur in patients undergoing chronic corticosteroid or immunosuppressive therapy for organ transplant, individuals with certain types of cancer (such as Hodgkin’s disease or lymphoma), as well as individuals with autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosis – some of whom are treated with biological therapies that allow JC virus reactivation; and 

WHEREAS, it is estimated that prior to effective antiretroviral therapy, as many as 5 percent of persons with HIV-1 eventually develop PML; and  

WHEREAS, Symptoms of PML include weakness or paralysis, vision loss, impaired speech, and cognitive deterioration; and 

WHEREAS, PML has a mortality rate of 30-50 percent after the first few months following the diagnosis, depending on the severity of the disease and treatment received, and those who survive PML are often left with severe neurological disabilities; and 

WHEREAS, The Courtney Project is a leading organization dedicated to increasing global awareness of PML by educating and providing vital information about the disease; 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, do hereby recognize May 2014 as PROGRESSIVE MULTIFOCAL LEUKOENCEPHALOPATHY MONTH, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.

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