Eradicated Polio Appears To Be Making an American Comeback

Eradicated Polio Appears To Be Making an American Comeback

Deadly Disease Returns – We Thought It Was Over…

( – Polio has been mostly absent in the United States for decades thanks to a diligent vaccination campaign. Eradicating the virus in 1979 was a major medical victory. Officials have only reported 3 cases of polio since 2000, which affected 10 people, all of which traced back to origins outside the country. That was true until June 2022, when polio reared its ugly head in New York.

Patient Zero

A young man from Rockland County, New York, went to the hospital complaining of muscle weakness and other symptoms of polio. Doctors determined their patient, who became paralyzed, had the virus. His case marked only the second community-spread incident since eradication.

After the young man’s diagnosis, officials became concerned about other people in New York contracting and spreading the disease to vulnerable individuals, which include the unvaccinated and immune-compromised. Most infected people do not have symptoms of the disease, but they can still spread it unknowingly.

In most cases, polio causes mild symptoms, such as stomach ache, nausea, sore throat, headache, fever, and fatigue. In some cases, the infection can lead to paralysis, meningitis, and even death. Even in patients who fully recover, the risk of paralysis, muscle pain, and weakness is not completely gone and can resurface later in life.

The Rebound of an Eradicated Illness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York Health Department worked together to investigate the Rockland case. They discovered the virus in the county’s wastewater. Additional tests revealed it also was present in Orange and Sullivan Counties and New York City. The results indicate the illness is active in these areas, possibly leaving a number of citizens vulnerable to infection.

Health professionals believe the revival of polio is a combined result of unvaccinated people and the oral vaccination. The oral version of the inoculation uses a weakened form of the virus, which makes the person receiving it contagious and able to infect others. Officials think the New York case originated from someone who took the oral immunization and infected the unvaccinated patient.

The infection also likely came to the US from somewhere outside the country. Since 2000, medical providers here have only used the injection, which contains a dead virus that cannot spread to others.

Taking Out the Risk

Polio has no cure, and it is highly contagious. The only way to protect against it is through vaccination. The areas where the infection is showing up have low immunization rates. These communities have been targets of anti-vaccination campaigns. The COVID-19 pandemic also didn’t help as the push for people to get the shot lowered some of the public’s trust in the healthcare community.

Because the US has high overall vaccination rates, experts are not concerned about the possibility of a massive US outbreak at this time. Still, the CDC says updating immunizations and diligent handwashing with soap and water are the best chances for prevention.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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