February 9, 2023

They detect the first case of polio in the US in almost a decade. What is polio? What are your symptoms? Is there a cure?

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(CNN) — An adult person from Rockland County, New York, has been diagnosed with polio, the first case identified in the United States in nearly a decade.

The unvaccinated young adult began experiencing weakness and paralysis about a month ago, county health commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said Thursday.

The case comes nearly a month after the UK Health Security Agency warned it had detected poliovirus in its surveillance of sewage samples from London, indicating some spread had taken place between closely related people in the north. and East London, although no cases had been identified there.

What is polio?

Poliomyelitis is an infection caused by the poliovirus. About 1 in 4 infected people have flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, and stomach pain. Up to 1 in 200 will develop more serious symptoms including tingling and numbness in the legs, an infection of the brain or spinal cord and paralysis, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC).

There is no cure for polio. The treatment to address symptoms may include medications to relax the muscles and heat and physical therapy to stimulate the muscles. However, any paralysis caused by polio is permanent.

“This patient presented with weakness and paralysis,” Schnabel Ruppert said.

This is the first case of polio diagnosed in the United States since 2013, according to the New York Department of Health.

State and county health officials advise health care providers to keep an eye out for additional cases, and advise county residents to get vaccinated against polio.

“The risk of this event to an unvaccinated member of the community is still being determined,” said Ruppert Schnabel. “We strongly recommend anyone who is not vaccinated to get vaccinated.”

polio vaccine

The polio vaccine is part of the CDC’s standard immunization schedule and is required for school attendance. People already vaccinated are not expected to be at risk.

The New York case was identified as Sabin type 2 reverse polio virus, indicating it was derived from someone who received the oral polio vaccine, which contains a live but weakened form of the polio virus.

Officials say this suggests the virus originated outside the US, where the oral vaccine is still administered, but they are investigating the origins of this particular case.

Health officials said Thursday that the person had not traveled outside the US before or after the diagnosis.

Usually, people who get polio can spread it to other people for about two weeks. Officials said the individual is not expected to be contagious at this time because that time period has passed and he has normal immune function. But others may have been exposed before the case was diagnosed.

The oral polio vaccine is no longer licensed for use in the United States. Only the inactivated polio vaccine has been administered in this country since 2000.

A person cannot get polio from the vaccine itself, but in recent years, cases of polio related to the removal of the oral vaccine have arisen in communities that have low vaccination rates. Health officials believe the strain of virus the individual contracted originated in this way.

When this weakened strain of the virus circulates in poorly immunized populations, usually in areas with poor sanitation, the virus can acquire mutations and revert to a form that causes paralysis. These vaccine-derived viruses are different from wild polioviruses, which now circulate only in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Low vaccination rates

Rockland County is home to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community where vaccination rates have historically been very low. In 2018 and 2019, Rockland County was the epicenter of a large measles outbreak that lasted nearly a year and sickened 312 people. County health officials reported at the time that only 8% of people there had been vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella before the outbreak began.

“Based on what we know about this case and polio in general, the Department of Health strongly recommends that unvaccinated individuals be vaccinated or boosted with the FDA-approved IPV polio vaccine as soon as possible,” the state commissioner said. of health Mary T. Bassett said in a statement Thursday. “The polio vaccine is safe and effective, protecting against this potentially debilitating disease, and has been part of the backbone of required routine childhood immunizations recommended by health officials and public health agencies across the country.” .

Polio cases were once common in the United States and around the world. During one of the most severe outbreaks in 1952, the virus infected 58,000 people in the US, paralyzed more than 21,000 and killed more than 3,100. However, vaccination campaigns drastically reduce cases. The last natural case of polio in the US was recorded in 1979.



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