An adult resident of suburban New York City was diagnosed with polio after experiencing paralysis a month ago, state and local health officials said on Thursday, marking the nation’s first confirmed case of the disease in nearly 10 years.
The highly contagious and long-feared virus may have its origins outside of the United States, according to testing results, the New York State Health Department stated in a statement on the case in Rockland County.
Dr Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the Rockland County health commissioner, stated at a news conference that the patient was no longer contagious but that “we are currently surveying the family and close connections of this individual to determine hazards to the community.”
According to Ruppert, the person was not immunised.
She said analysis by state health experts found the case originated from a strain of weakened virus used in oral polio vaccines overseas that can sometimes cause an infection and, for that reason, been discontinued in the United States since 2000.
In the United States, an inert polio vaccine administered in three injections provides nearly 100% immunity.
Exactly how or where the infected Rockland County resident was exposed to the virus remains under evaluation, Ruppert said, adding that the individual did not take an oral vaccine themselves.
The New York Times, citing local elected officials, said the man was a member of the Orthodox Jewish community, which was at the centre of a 2018-2019 measles outbreak attributed to relatively low vaccination rates among the highly devout.
Polio is often asymptomatic but can produce flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, fever, fatigue and nausea. In a small percentage of cases, the virus can invade the nervous system and cause irreversible paralysis.
Polio has no cure, but infection can be prevented by vaccination – and a dramatic reduction in cases worldwide in recent decades has been due to intense national and regional immunization campaigns in babies and children.