An unvaccinated young adult who lives in Rockland County was diagnosed with polio, New York health officials said on Thursday. It is the first identified polio case in the U.S. since 2013.
The patient, who did not recently travel outside the country, developed significant symptoms, including paralysis, and had to be hospitalized, The New York State Health Department and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed.
The patient caught a polio strain known as revertant Sabin type 2 virus. It indicates that the chain of infection started with someone who received the oral polio vaccine, containing a mild virus strain that is still able to replicate.
This type of vaccine is no longer authorized or administered in the U.S., where only the inactivated polio vaccine, containing a non-replicating virus strain, is used. Therefore, officials believe the virus may have originated outside of the U.S.
"Based on what we know about this case, and polio in general, the Department of Health strongly recommends that unvaccinated individuals get vaccinated or boosted with the FDA-approved IPV polio vaccine as soon as possible," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said.
Although polio was officially declared eradicated in 2004, the U.K. reported a resurgence of the virus last month when it was discovered in sewage samples from north and east London.
Poliovirus is very contagious, but most people infected with it will not have any visible symptoms. About 1 out of 4 people with poliovirus infection will have flu-like symptoms that may include sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, and stomach pain.
On rare occasions, patients can develop more severe symptoms such as paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles in the legs), meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain), and paralysis.