The arrival of polio in the United States is a reminder that children need vaccinations

BILLIONA global pandemic is not the only current example of what happens when Vaccine skepticism and misinformation infect the public. Immunization rates among children around the world are also at their highest decrease in three decades. And on July 21, another viral disease with a remarkably effective vaccine to prevent it appeared very unwelcome. One a single case of polio appeared in Rockland County, New York — the first time any polio case has been detected in the United States in nearly a decade. The infected person, whose name is being withheld, was a man in his 20s who had recently developed polio-associated polio. He has never been vaccinated against the disease.

Seems like a single case in a county is a bigger problem. Polio was officially declared eradicated in the United States in 1979, and in the world there are only two countries where the disease is endemic: Pakistan and Afghanistan. The fact that even a single case of polio has reached the United States is troubling.

“Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but as I grew older, the disease caused fear in families, including myself,” said CEO. Rockland County, Ed Day said in a statement to the media on July 21. “The fact that it’s still about decades after the vaccine was created shows you how relentless it is.”

But while this case is disturbing, its epidemiological route is not a mystery, and paradoxically the polio vaccine played a role in transmission. There are two types of polio vaccine: inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and oral polio vaccine (OPV). IPV, as its name suggests, uses a killed polio virus to sensitize the body’s immune system to disease and prepare it to defend itself against the wild virus. , if encountered later. OPV uses a weakened — or weakened — form of the virus to perform the same function. The big advantage of OPV is that it can be used easily and cheaply – with just a few drops on the tongue – by nearly any healthcare worker. IPV must be injected.

Ease of administration is why OPV was previously the vaccine of choice for global polio eradication programmes, but it has a downside. In extremely rare cases, attenuated vaccines can mutate back to virulence. Sometimes this can cause polio in vaccinated people; In other cases, the person is unharmed but can still shed the virus, causing polio in an unvaccinated person who encounters it. OPV prevents more cases of disease than it causes. Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) estimated that The 10 billion doses of OPV administered worldwide over the past decade have prevented more than 16 million cases of polio, compared with the very small number they have caused. However, the fact that the vaccine has any such risk is behind the decision to discontinue use in the US in 2000 and administer only IPV.

In the case of the New York patient, genetic testing of the virus he had had indicated that it was of vaccine origin. The New York man had not recently traveled out of the country, so epidemiologists suspect that the virus was brought in by someone from abroad who received OPV.

The answer for all Americans is to stay up to date on immunizations and childhood immunizations. Based on According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 92.6% of two-year-old children in the United States received three doses of IPV as recommended by them. Lots, but someone in the remaining 7.4% of unvaccinated children could be the next case, as was the case with a young man in New York. That is the fate no parent wants for their child.

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