New York Reports First U.S. Polio Case in Nearly a Decade

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

Officials could not provide immediate details about the Rockland County resident, including whether they were vaccinated and their current health.

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

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.

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Vaccines were made available in 1955. According to the CDC, a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of vaccine-related deaths to less than 100 per year in the 1960s and less than 10 per cent in the 1970s saw a reduction in cases.

Polio was eliminated from the United States in 1979. It is rare that travelers infected with polio bring it into the USA. This was the case of 2013.

U.S. kids are routinely immunized against polio. The federal government recommends four doses at each age: 2 to 4 months, 4 to 6 months, 6 to 18 month and 4 to 6 years. Some states may only need three doses.

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

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Polio can spread easily from one person to another or via contaminated drinking water. It can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis and possibly permanent disability and death. This disease is most common in children.

Although polio has been reported in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it is also endemic elsewhere in the world.

After the discovery of the Polio virus in London’s sewage, British health officials warned parents last month to ensure that their children were vaccinated. Paralysis was not reported.

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