POLIO IN NEW YORK: Unvaxxed adult diagnosed with first case since 2013

The infected individual was hospitalized after suffering serious symptoms, including paralysis


                            POLIO IN NEW YORK: Unvaxxed adult diagnosed with first case since 2013
Polio leads to paralysis in about one in 100 cases and of the ones that are paralyzed, up to one in 10 die (Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images)
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An adult from Upstate New York has been diagnosed with polio. The unnamed person, who had refused to get vaccinated against the virus, is America's first polio patient in nearly a decade. The individual was hospitalized in Rockland County after suffering serious symptoms, including paralysis.

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Health officials have said that the infected person may have picked up the virus from outside the country. Their recent travel history and gender have not been revealed. This is the first case of polio found in the US since 2013. The polio vaccine is routinely offered to children in the US. The disease leads to paralysis in about one in 100 cases and of the ones that are paralyzed, up to one in ten die from the disease. However, in recent times, the population immunity level has fallen below the WHO-recommended threshold that would prevent an outbreak of the disease in the country.

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"Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children under 5 years of age. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the fecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis," World Health Organization says. 

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New York's Department of Health announced the case, urging care providers to remain on the lookout for more cases. They also urged unvaxxed people to get their jabs at the earliest. "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 FDA-approved IPV polio vaccine as soon as possible," Health Commissioner Dr Mary Bassett said, according to the Daily Mail. "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."

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Testing found that the patient was infected with a strain of polio from someone who had received the oral polio vaccine (OPV), which has not been used in the US since 2000. This led to health officials suggesting that the person was infected outside the country. OPV is used in a few countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, the virus in this jab can mutate to become more like the wild or naturally occurring type in rare cases.

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"Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but when I was growing up, this disease struck fear into families including my own," Rockland County Executive Ed Day, 72, said, urging people to get vaccinated. "Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but when I was growing up, this disease struck fear into families including my own."

"The fact that it is still around decades after the vaccine was created shows you just how relentless it is," Day added. "Do the right thin for your child and the greater good of your community and have your child vaccinated now."

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) insists that all children must be vaccinated against the disease. It is given as four shots in the leg or arm -- the first at two months old, the second at four months, the third between six and 18 months and the final dose between four and six years old. The vaccine ensures that 99 percent of children receive life-long protection against polio.  

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