What We Know About The First US Reported Polio Case In Nearly A Decade

Polio is a highly contagious, life-threatening viral disease that can cause fatigue, sore throat, fever, headache, neck or back pain or stiffness, muscle weakness, and vomiting. In severe cases, it can attack the spinal cord and brain, resulting in paralysis. While anyone can contract the disease, children under the age of five are more at risk for contracting it (via WebMD).

Numerous outbreaks of polio occurred in the United States between 1948 and 1955, and the disease became a significant source of fear due to its debilitating effects (per Mayo Clinic). From 1955 to 1963, three vaccines were developed for polio. They were so successful that the disease was considered to be eradicated from North and South America in 1994. By 2006, polio occurred in only four countries across the world (per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). However, a new case of polio has been reported, according to The Associated Press (AP), making it the first U.S. case since 2013.

The person is from New York

Officials reported that an adult from Rockland County, New York recently contracted the disease, and has developed paralysis as a result. The individual reportedly had symptoms for about a month (per CBS News). Officials also reported that the person had contracted a vaccine-derived strain of polio, which they might have gotten it from someone who had received a live vaccine, only available in other countries. Reports stated that the person had not traveled outside the country recently, and that they are no longer considered contagious. Investigators are looking into how the person may have become infected and if anyone else could have been exposed to the virus, according to The AP.

Most people in the U.S. are vaccinated against polio, and are therefore safe. Jennifer Nuzzo, a pandemic researcher at Brown University, told The AP that while it isn't normal to see a case of polio in the country, it's nothing for vaccinated people to worry about. However, she urged those who are not vaccinated, including children, to get a vaccine.