First polio case in nearly one decade reported in New York

July 21, 2022

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.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett on the first case of polio reported in the United States in nearly a decade.

Why It Matters: The first polio case reported in the U.S. in nearly ten years was discovered in Rockland County, New York, according to health officials on Thursday; they urge people who are unvaccinated for polio to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The unvaccinated person who was diagnosed with polio is no longer contagious, though had developed paralysis. Health officials are currently investigating how the case originated and working to determine whether others were exposed.

  • The Associated Press reports: “It appears the patient had a vaccine-derived strain of the virus, perhaps from someone who got live vaccine — available in other countries, but not the U.S. — and spread it, officials said.” According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, “Live vaccines use a weakened … form of the germ that causes a disease.”
  • In 1979, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that polio was eliminated in the U.S. (no longer occurring regularly). However, there have been rare cases of polio reported in the U.S. stemming from people who either traveled or had contact with someone who received the “live” form of the polio vaccine in another country.
  • Polio is very contagious, though less than 3 in 10 people with polio present symptoms, which can include a headache, fever and sore throat. In less than 1% of cases, polio can cause paralysis which can, though rarely, lead to death or permanent disability.
  • “If you’re vaccinated, it’s not something you need to worry about. But if you haven’t gotten your kids vaccinated, it’s really important that you make sure they’re up to date,” Brown University epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo said.

Press Release: New York State Department of Health and Rockland County Department of Health Alert the Public to A Case of Polio In the County

New York reports 1st US polio case in nearly a decade (Associated Press)

What is Polio? (CDC)

by Jenna Lee,