Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive fatal neurologic disease. Currently, there is no cure for ALS and the available treatments only extend life by an average of a few months. The majority of ALS patients die within 2–5 years of diagnosis, though survival time varies depending on disease progression (1,2). For approximately 10% of patients, ALS is familial, meaning it and has a genetic component; the remaining 90% have sporadic ALS, where etiology is unknown, but might be linked to environmental factors such as chemical exposures (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides) and occupational history (3).

Like many other noncommunicable conditions, ALS is a nonnotifiable disease in the United States; therefore, the federal government lacks reliable incidence and prevalence estimates for the United States. During October 2008, Congress passed the ALS Registry Act (4), directing CDC and its sister agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, to create a population-based ALS registry for the United States. The main objectives of the National ALS Registry, which was launched in October 2010, are to describe the national incidence and prevalence of ALS; describe the demographics of persons living with ALS; and examine risk factors for the disease (4,5). During January 2017, the Registry launched the National ALS Biorepository, which aims to promote research in areas including biomarkers, genetics, and environmental exposures to heavy metals or organophosphates (6,7).

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Published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, v. 66, no. 50, 1379-1382.

This article was published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is in the public domain.

An erratum to this article can be found at https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6702a8.

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