New York: State health officials say that a young adult in New York has become the first US resident infected with polio in nearly a decade.
The unnamed patient in Rockland County is no longer contagious but has developed paralysis from the virus. Officials say the man was not vaccinated and was probably in contact with someone who had received a vaccine that contains a weakened live virus.
The last known US case of the highly contagious virus was reported in 2013.
Once feared across the country, the disease was largely eradicated by a national vaccination campaign in 1955. Annual cases fell sharply from less than 100 in the 1960s to less than 10 in the 1970s, and by 1979 the US was declared polio-free.
But while the US and other countries use jabs made from an unactivated version of the virus, some countries orally administer a vaccine that uses the virus in a weakened live form.
That weakened virus can, in rare cases, mutate and risk a new outbreak.
Like the Rockland County patient, the last reported case of polio in the US was a vaccine-derived strain of a seven-month-old baby who was transferred from India to the state of Texas in 2013. The news has prompted local officials to schedule vaccination clinics in New York state for Friday and Monday.
“We want shots in the arms of those who need it,” Rockland County health commissioner Dr Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said at a Thursday news conference.
Polio is endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan but has recently been reported in other parts of the world. Health officials in the UK called on parents last month to vaccinate their children, warning that the virus had been found in London sewage samples.