The first polio case in the United States since 2007 has been identified in a young adult from Rockland County, New York. The county health commissioner, Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, said Thursday that the unvaccinated person began suffering from limb and nerve paralysis about a month ago.
This case comes nearly a month after the UK Health Security Agency announced the detection of poliovirus in London sewage samples. Although no cases have been identified in London yet, this indicates that the virus is spreading between closely linked individuals in North and East London.
The individual, who was not identified, had recently traveled to Pakistan, where poliovirus is endemic. The person developed symptoms and was hospitalized last month.
Polio is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects young children. It is spread through contact with the feces of an infected person.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, and stiffness in the neck and back. In some cases, paralysis can occur. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through vaccination.
This is the first case of polio in the US since an outbreak in Minnesota in 2006. That outbreak was traced to a child who had been vaccinated with a live attenuated vaccine (OPV).
The last case of wild poliovirus in the US was reported in 1979. Since then, there have been only sporadic cases of polio caused by the vaccine-derived virus.
Polio is still endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a goal of eliminating polio worldwide by 2018.
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