New York reports first polio case in US in almost a decade

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

Officials did not immediately provide details about who the Rockland County resident is, whether he or she has been vaccinated or their current status.

State officials said it appears the person contracted a vaccine-derived strain of the virus, possibly from someone who received a live vaccine – available in other countries, but not in the US – 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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According to the CDC, the vaccine was made available starting in 1955, and a nationwide vaccination campaign cut the number of annual cases to less than 100 in the 1960s and less than 10 in the 1970s.

In 1979, polio was declared eliminated in the US, meaning that there was no longer a regular spread of the virus in the country. Rarely have travelers with polio brought the contagion into the US, with the last such case in 2013.

Children in the United States are still routinely vaccinated against polio. Federal officials recommend four doses: given at 2 months of age; 4 months; from 6 to 18 months; and from 4 to 6 years old. Some states only require three doses.

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

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Polio is mainly spread 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.

Last month, health officials in the UK warned parents to make sure their children were vaccinated after the polio virus was found in sewage samples in London. No cases of paralysis have been reported.

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