Health officials in Rockland County, New York, confirmed the first case of polio in the U.S. in almost 10 years.
Details: Information about the case is limited, but a public health official who wasn’t authorized to speak on record stated that the patient was a 20-year-old man who had not received a polio vaccine. The man was hospitalized in June after experiencing some paralysis. Doctors suspect he may have contracted the disease overseas as he traveled to Poland and Hungary this year. He has been discharged and is no longer contagious, according to health officials.
About polio: Before the vaccine was widely available, polio was “one of the most feared diseases in the U.S.,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- In the 1950s, polio caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis annually.
- Polio targets the neurologic system, which is why some infected people can experience muscle weakness, paralysis or even death.
- The vast majority (95%) of people infected with polio have no symptoms but can still spread the virus.
- Rockland County Executive Ed Day urged families to vaccinate their children. The CDC includes the polio vaccine in the standard child immunization schedule.
- Since the vaccine was introduced in 1955, cases of polio have nearly diminished, with the last natural case recorded in 1979.
Key quote: “Many of you are too young to remember polio but when I was growing up, this disease struck fear in 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 said.