First U.S. Polio Case In Nearly A Decade Confirmed

The first U.S. case of polio in nearly a decade was confirmed in Rockland County, approximately 40 miles north of New York City, the New York State Department of Health announced on its website Thursday (July 21).

“The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the Rockland County Department of Health today alerted the public to a case of polio in a Rockland County resident,” the news release stated. “State and County health officials are advising medical practitioners and healthcare providers to be vigilant for additional cases.”

The department said individuals who have already received the polio vaccine — which is included on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s standard child immunization schedule — are considered to be at a lower risk.

“Based on what we know about this case, and polio in general, the Department of Health strongly recommends that unvaccinated individuals get vaccinated or boosted with the FDA-approved IPV polio vaccine as soon as possible,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “The polio vaccine is safe and effective, protecting against this potentially debilitating disease, and it has been part of the backbone of required, routine childhood immunizations recommended by health officials and public health agencies nationwide.” 

The recent case is known as a revertant Sabin type 2 virus, which means it was spread from someone who received the oral polio vaccine containing a mild virus strain that is still replicable to spread to others.

The oral polio vaccine is no longer offered in the U.S., which is why the recent case’s chain of infection is believed to have originated outside of the country.

The last known polio case originating within the U.S. took place in 1979 and the last imported case occurred in 2013.

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