ROCKLAND COUNTY, NY (PIX11) — A Rockland County resident tested positive for polio in what is the first case of the disease in the country since 2013, health officials announced Thursday.
Polio rates were cut drastically after the vaccine was introduced and the last naturally occurring polio cases in the U.S. were in 1979, County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said. Travelers with polio have brought infections into the U.S. on rare occasions, with the last such case in 2013.
No identifying information was released for the Rockland resident with polio and it wasn’t immediately clear how they contracted the disease, but state health officials said the person got the oral polio vaccine, which is no longer allowed or used in the US. Only the inactivated polio vaccine has been administered since 2000. The patient’s case of polio may have originated from a location outside of the country.
“Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but when I was growing, up this disease struck fear in families, including my own,” Day said. “The fact that it is still around decades after the vaccine was created shows you just how relentless it is. Do the right thing for your child and the greater good of your community and have your child vaccinated now.”
The county organized two polio vaccination clinics. Anyone who’s unvaccinated, who has not completed the vaccination series, or is at high risk of contracting polio is urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The first clinic will be on Friday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Pomona Health Complex. A second clinic will be held at the same location on July 25 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. People can pre-register or walk in for an appointment. Individuals who need help can call (845) 238-1956.
“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.”
Polio can cause impact the neurologic system, causing muscle weakness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people infected with polio have no symptoms. Some develop fever, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Other cans develop severe muscle pain and stiffness in the neck and back. People with polio can develop paralysis or die in rare cases
Polio is very contagious. A person can spread polio even if they aren’t sick. For more information on polio, its symptoms, and how it spreads, visit NYSDOH. Learn more about the polio vaccine available in the U.S. at the CDC.