The first case of poliomyelitis in the United States in a decade was recorded this Thursday (21.07.2022) in Rockland County, New York State, where authorities have asked residents to exercise extreme vigilance, according to a statement from the state Department of Health.
The last case of poliomyelitis was recorded in the United States in 2013, and it was already exceptional, since it was considered eradicated in 1979, after a national vaccination campaign in the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s.
Poliomyelitis is highly contagious and unlikely to be detected in people born in the United States, as it is part of the mandatory school vaccination system.
“The virus can come from outside the United States”
According to the sequencing of this case, it is Sabin revertant poliovirus type 2, indicating that the person received the oral polio vaccine (OPV), which is no longer licensed or administered in the United States, a country that in 2000 opted for the IPV vaccine, which requires several injections and regular reminders.
“This suggests that the virus may have originated from a location outside of the United States,” authorities said in a statement, noting that “revertant strains do not originate from inactivated vaccines.”
Although it is an incurable disease, which can lead to muscle paralysis and even death, it can be prevented thanks to a vaccine, available since 1955, which kept the virus under control until it was virtually eradicated.
This 1964 microscope image, made available by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows the damage caused by poliovirus to human spinal cord tissue.
Continued decline in childhood vaccinations
But over the past two years, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of access to information and misinformation in many countries, there has been a continued decline in childhood vaccinations, recently alerted the WHO and Unicef.
The virus usually enters the body through the mouth on hands contaminated with an infected person’s feces or saliva.
Symptoms can be flu-like (fatigue, fever, headache, body aches, muscle aches and vomiting) and can take up to 30 days to appear, during which time the infected person continues to transmit the virus.
“Based on what we know about this case, and about polio in general, the Ministry of Health strongly recommends that unvaccinated people get vaccinated or given a booster dose with the IPV vaccine as soon as possible” , recommends the official of Health of the state, Mary T. Bassett. Starting this Friday, the county organized a vaccination campaign.
“Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but growing up this disease scared families, including my own,” County Executive Ed Day said in a statement. , recalling that the fact that the virus is still present years after the vaccine shows how “relentless” it is.
LITTLE (EFE, AFP)