WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Health officials said Thursday that the first case of polio in the U.S. was detected in New York state.
- It’s the first known infection in the country in nearly a decade.
- The adult patient was not vaccinated against polio and suffered paralysis.
Health officials said Thursday that the first case of polio reported in the U.S. in nearly ten years was detected in Rockland County, in New York state.
In a statement, health officials said the patient was infected with a type 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus, which would have come from oral polio vaccine used in other countries, but not the United States. The U.S. stopped using oral polio vaccine in 2000, suggesting that the virus may have originated outside the U.S.
The polio patient is a young adult who started experiencing symptoms a month ago, according to public health officials in Rockland County. The person is no longer contagious but has suffered some paralysis. It is not yet determined whether the paralysis will be permanent.
The infected person contracted polio through exposure to someone who was inoculated with the oral vaccine. The patient did not travel outside of the country, so the exposure was here, said health officials, who are now investigating whether there are any close contacts of the patient who are at risk. There are no other suspected cases at this time.
Health officials urged those who are unvaccinated, and parents of unvaccinated children, to seek polio vaccination now.
“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,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement.
The last known case in the U.S. was recorded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013, which was also an instance of vaccine-derived polio. The last “wild” case of polio was detected in the U.S. in 1979.
The U.S. uses the inactivated polio vaccine, which cannot cause infection.
Being vaccinated against polio protects people against both vaccine-derived and “wild” polio.
Polio is a very contagious, potentially fatal, virus that can be spread even when an infected person has no symptoms.
Symptoms, which include fatigue, fever, headache, stiffness, muscle pain and vomiting, can take up to 30 days to appear. In rare cases, polio can cause paralysis or death.
Source: ABC News