ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– Polio can lead to permanent paralysis of the arms and legs and even death in some instances. Back in July, a case of this virus was discovered in Rockland County, New York.
“We know that this is a young adult who was unvaccinated who did not have any foreign travel and presented to the hospital with weakness paralysis and was subsequently diagnosed with having been infected with polio virus,” explained Dr. José Romero, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
Romero said this case came as a surprise, and that the virus is believed to have possibly derived from an oral vaccine given outside of the US.
“We don’t know 100 percent for sure. We know that the virus does have some relatedness to a virus that is found in Great Britain and another that was found in Jerusalem, Israel.”
According to the CDC, vaccine derived poliovirus can emerge if the weakened live virus contained in the oral polio vaccine, shed by children who are vaccinated with the oral polio vaccine, circulates in under-immunized populations long enough to genetically revert to a version that causes paralysis.
Inactivated polio vaccine is the only polio vaccine that has been given in the United States since 2000. The CDC making it clear that you cannot get polio from a vaccine.
One way of detecting the virus is through wastewater samples.
“We looked at samples that have been provided to us. We have positive samples from the area as early as April and we have seen samples since then. We are continuing to track it. We don’t know how long this virus has been in the community, per se, but that’s where our detection rates are so far.”
Positive wastewater samples have been discovered in Rockland, Orange, and neighboring New York City counties.
New York State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett stated in part, “For every one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected.”
That’s why she and other health officials, including Dr. Romero, are encouraging people to get vaccinated if they aren’t already.
“This is a disease we can prevent,” said Romero. “And we don’t have to see anymore cases if everyone gets vaccinated.”