New Case of Polio Detected in the US
A young adult resident of Rockland County, New York, contracted polio, revealed the New York State Health Department on Thursday, July 21. The unidentified person is reported to be unvaccinated and had begun experiencing weakness and paralysis about a month ago.
According to the Health Department, this is the first detected case of the disease in the United States since 2013. State and county health authorities have warned those who are unvaccinated to do so to avoid a spike in cases.
“The risk to an unvaccinated community member from this event is still being determined,” Ruppert Schnabel, county Health Commissioner said. “We strongly advise anyone who’s unvaccinated to get vaccinated.”
The State Health Commissioner, Mary Bassett, released a statement regarding the presence of polio in the US. “Based on what we know about this case, and polio in general, the Department of Health strongly recommends that unvaccinated individuals get vaccinated or boosted with the FDA-approved IPV polio vaccine as soon as possible,” Bassett said.
“The polio vaccine is safe and effective, protecting against this potentially debilitating disease, and it has been part of the backbone of required, routine childhood immunizations recommended by health officials and public health agencies nationwide.”
According to reports, the recently discovered case originated from the oral polio vaccine. The oral vaccine is made of weakened live strains of the virus.
Over time, the strain can mutate and become more like the natural polio virus, making it possible for unvaccinated people to become infected. This form of the virus is known as vaccine-derived polio. The oral vaccine has not been available in the United States since 2000, meaning there is a high possibility that the polio case originated outside the country. Investigations are ongoing to determine the case’s exact origin.
On Friday, July 29th, the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization told ProPublica that they had detected the poliovirus that infected the Rockland County resident in sewer samples from London and Jerusalem. Officials are still investigating where it originated and how the virus traveled to the United States.
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According to reports, Rockland County is an area that historically has low vaccination rates. Between 2018 and 2019, the county experienced a measles outbreak that infected 312 people and lasted almost an entire year.
According to county health officials, only 8% of those cases had received vaccines against measles, mumps, and rubella before the start of the outbreak.
Polio is a dangerous infection that is caused by the poliovirus. Its symptoms include sore throat, fever, exhaustion, nausea, headache, and stomach pains. However, symptoms can become more serious with infected people experiencing tingling and numbness in the legs, a brain or spinal cord infection, and paralysis.
The paralysis caused by polio is permanent. While there is treatment, such as physical therapy and medication to relax muscles and address symptoms, there is no cure for polio.
Polio was historically a significant health hazard throughout the world until it was almost completely eradicated through vaccination programs. It is, however, still present in poor countries that have not been able to implement vaccination programs and suffer shortages of clean water.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to experience several cases. The United States experienced an outbreak in 1952 when 52,000 people were infected. This resulted in the paralysis of 21,000 people and the killing of 3,100. The last case of naturally occurring polio in the United States was in 1979.