This week it was announced that a 20-year-old Rockland County resident was diagnosed with polio. This is her first confirmed case of the virus in the United States in nine years. Make sure their children are vaccinated against once feared diseases.
However, according to state health officials, the risk of the virus remains low in New Jersey due to high vaccination rates and low contact with infected people. This contrasts with Rockland County, where vaccine protection against the disease dropped to 61% of her 2-year-old and vaccine clinics were soon scheduled for Friday and Monday.
The Rockland County patient had been infected with a polio strain from an oral vaccine that has not been used in the United States since 2000, indicating that it was acquired abroad, New York health officials said. was based on gene sequencing of the virus in men by the New York State Institute of Public Health and confirmed by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The man reportedly traveled to Poland and Hungary this year and was hospitalized in June. He was at his parents’ home recovering and was able to stand but had difficulty walking, The Washington Post reported.
Rockland County officials said Thursday that he was not contagious.
“At this time, no New Jersey contacts have been identified and we are awaiting an update from the State of New York,” Nancy Carney, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health, said Friday afternoon. Health officials have warned local public health departments and health care providers to be vigilant of possible cases.
However, the risk of spread is low in highly vaccinated populations. “New Jersey has high vaccination rates as a result of existing child school vaccination requirements, leading to public protection from the virus,” Carney said.
A series of 3 doses by age 2 and 1 dose by age 4 to 6 provides almost complete protection against the virus.
According to the latest data, 96% of children in New Jersey received three doses of polio vaccine by the age of 35 months.
In contrast, immunization coverage in Rockland County is much lower, with only 61% of 2-year-olds in Rockland reporting being fully vaccinated, up from 67% two years ago, according to the New York Department of Health. did not. Declines in infant visitation during the pandemic and growing hesitancy toward childhood vaccines have contributed to the decline in vaccination coverage nationwide.
Dr. Ronald Nahass, an infectious disease specialist in New Jersey and president of ID Care, which has more than 50 physicians statewide, said: “If there is a small outbreak, it will occur among unvaccinated individuals.” But he was surprised by the low vaccination coverage in Rockland.
People with polio rarely become paralyzed, but “paralysis is devastating,” Nahass said. “Once you get polio, there is no cure.” Most people who develop polio have no symptoms. The disease can also cause mild illnesses such as intestinal upset, fever and flu symptoms, he said.
The virus that causes polio is shed in the faeces and spread through contact with a faecal-contaminated mouth. For example, shaking hands without washing your hands after using the restroom.
Oral forms of vaccines use a weakened or attenuated form of the virus to generate an immune response. Those who receive it can shed the vaccine and infect unvaccinated people. An oral vaccine has not been licensed or administered in the United States since 2000, but is still distributed in other countries by the World Health Organization.
The vaccine used in the United States relies on inactivated poliovirus and is given in a series of injections.
The presence of viruses in wastewater can be used to know the extent of virus presence in the community.
Kartik Chandran, an engineering professor at Columbia University, said testing for poliovirus would be added to wastewater monitoring in Bergen County “in light of recent events.” Since the early days of the pandemic, he has led a wastewater monitoring study in Bergen county for the virus that causes COVID-19.
The poliovirus was detected in sewage monitoring in London between February and June of this year. No polio cases were found. Traces were thought to be from people who received the oral vaccine. The continued discovery of samples over several months and the apparent evolution of the virus have raised concerns that polio is spreading among a small number of people there.
A polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s and spontaneous polio was eradicated in the United States in 1979. Since then, occasional cases resulting from oral vaccine use have been reported. Oral vaccines can spread the virus to unvaccinated people.