US polio case: New York reports virus in unvaccinated Rockland County resident, officials say

NEW YORK — New York health officials on Thursday reported a case of polio, the first in the US in nearly a decade.

Officials said the Rockland County resident is an unvaccinated adult, but did not specify the person’s condition.

It appears the person had a vaccine-derived strain of the virus, perhaps from someone who took a live vaccine — available in other countries, but not in the U.S. — and spread it, officials said.

The video in the media player above was used in a previous report.

Polio was once one of the nation’s most feared diseases, with annual outbreaks causing thousands of cases of paralysis — many of them in children.

Vaccines became available starting in 1955, and a national vaccination campaign reduced the annual number of cases in the U.S. to less than 100 in the 1960s and less than 10 in the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This 2014 image made available by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a polio virus particle.

Sarah Poser, Meredith Boyter Newlove/CDC via AP

In 1979, polio was declared eradicated in the US, meaning it no longer had the usual spread. Rarely, travelers with polio have brought infections to the US, with the last such case in 2013.

US children are still routinely vaccinated against polio. Federal officials recommend four doses: given at 2 months of age; 4 months? at 6 to 18 months; and at 4 to 6 years of age. Some states require only three doses.

According to the CDC’s most recent childhood immunization data, about 93% of 2-year-olds had received at least three doses of polio vaccine.

Polio is spread mainly from person to person or through contaminated water. It can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis and possibly permanent disability and death. The disease mainly affects children.

Polio is endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have also reported cases in recent years.

Rockland County, in upstate New York, has been a center of vaccine resistance in recent years. A measles outbreak there in 2018-2019 infected 312 people.

Last month, health officials in Britain warned parents to make sure children were vaccinated because the polio virus had been found in samples of London’s sewage. No cases of paralysis were reported.


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