New York reports the first case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade

NEW YORK — New York health officials reported a case of polio on Thursday, the first in the United States in nearly a decade.

Officials said the Rockland County resident is an unvaccinated adult, but did not detail the person’s condition.

It appears the person had a vaccine-derived strain of the virus, possibly from someone who got a live vaccine — available in other countries, but not the United States — and spread it, officials said.

Polio was once one of the country’s most feared diseases, with annual outbreaks causing thousands of cases of paralysis, many of them in children.

Vaccines became available from 1955, and a national vaccination campaign reduced the annual number of cases in the United States to less than 100 in the 1960s and less than 10 in the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control. and Prevention.

In 1979, poliomyelitis was declared eliminated in the United States, meaning there was no longer any systematic spread. Rarely have travelers with polio brought infections to the United States, the last such case in 2013.

American children are still routinely vaccinated against poliomyelitis. Federal authorities recommend four doses: to be given at 2 months of age; 4 months; at 6 to 18 months; and at the age of 4 to 6 years. Some states only require three doses.

According to the CDC’s most recent childhood immunization data, about 93 percent of 2-year-olds had received at least three doses of polio vaccine.

Poliomyelitis is transmitted mainly from person to person or through contaminated water. It can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis and eventually permanent disability and death. The disease mainly affects children.

Polio is endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have also reported cases in recent years.

Rockland County, in the northern suburbs of New York, has been a center of vaccine resistance in recent years. A measles outbreak in 2018-2019 infected 312 people there.

Last month, British health officials warned parents to make sure children had been vaccinated because the polio virus had been found in sewage samples from London. No cases of paralysis were reported.


The Associated Press Health & Science Department is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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