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

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 was an unvaccinated adult, but they did not detail that person’s condition.

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 the US – and spread it spread it, officials said.

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.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine became available in 1955, and a national vaccination campaign cut the annual number of cases in the US to less than 100 in the 1960s and less. 10 cases in the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

VIEW | A look back at the history of polio in Canada:

History of Polio in Canada

Look back to 1953, when polio last plagued Canada.

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

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

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.

Rockland County, in the northern suburbs of New York City, has been a center of vaccine resistance in recent years. A 2018-19 measles outbreak there sickened 312 people.

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

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