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The U.S. Has New Polio Case for the First Time in Nearly a Decade

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Experts are saying the singular case is a fluke, but recommend anyone who is not yet vaccinated to do so.

The first case of polio in the United States since 2013 has been reported in Rockland County, New York, according to a recent CNN report. The county Health Commissioner, Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, released information last Thursday concerning the symptoms of the unvaccinated young adult. “This patient did present with weakness and paralysis.” Schnabel Ruppert reported. 

The poliovirus made its way into the U.S. a month after the U.K. was advised by the Health Security Agency that the virus had been detected in London sewer samples, yet no actual cases have been reported there. 

Poliovirus is the cause of the polio infection and has an array of symptoms and severity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mild symptoms include sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, headache and stomach pain. More serious symptoms tend to affect 1 in 200 and consist of tingling and numbness in the legs, paralysis, and infectious progression to the brain or spinal cord.


There is no cure for polio, only treatment to relieve symptoms through medication and physical therapy. Unfortunately, once paralysis hits the damage is done, which is why Ruppert suggests, “We strongly advise anyone who is unvaccinated to get vaccinated.” Those who are vaccinated are not considered at risk by the CDC. 

Officials believe the case in New York may have originated from an oral vaccine which is administered outside the U.S., though the origin is still being investigated. Health officials state that you can not contract the infection from receiving the vaccine. Officials presume the individual contracted through shedding from the oral vaccine, which can infect the unvaccinated. 

Mary T. Bassett with the State Health Commissioner said in a statement on Thursday: “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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