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WHEREAS, Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), previously known as Devic’s disease, is a rare autoimmune disease that primarily affects the eye nerves and spinal cord; and
WHEREAS, NMO occurs when the body’s immune system reacts against its own cells; and
WHEREAS, NMO may cause blindness, weakness or paralysis in the legs or arms, painful spasms, loss of sensation, uncontrollable vomiting and hiccups, and bladder or bowel dysfunction from spinal cord damage; and
WHEREAS, an estimated 4,000 people in the United States have NMO, and it is 80 percent more common in women than men; and
WHEREAS, the cause of NMO is still largely unknown, and NMO is often misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis, but it is its own distinct condition; and
WHEREAS, while there is no cure for NMO, there are therapies aimed at treating episodes in progress, reducing symptoms, and preventing relapses; and
WHEREAS, increasing awareness about NMO has caused NMO diagnoses to rise, as doctors have become better able to recognize the varying manifestations of the disease; and
WHEREAS, the NMO community is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of this disease in order to promote research, improve patient care and outcomes, and find a cure;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize March 2018 as NEUROMYELITIS OPTICA AWARENESS MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.