The New York State Department of Health in the United States has reported that it has recorded a case of polio in Rockland County, the first in nearly a decade.
Thus, health authorities have issued an alert and have asked the population and health workers not to lower their guard to avoid possible outbreaks, although the disease is spread by contact with feces of an infected person.
Those who have been vaccinated against polio have a low risk of becoming infected. However, pregnant women and those who have not been vaccinated should visit county health centers and request vaccination.
“Given what we know about this case and polio in general, the Department of Health recommends that unvaccinated individuals get vaccinated and that those who need a booster shot get it as soon as possible as well,” state Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett said, according to a statement.
In this regard, she has emphasized that the “vaccine is safe and effective and protects against the disease.” Polio is highly contagious, so a person who is sick can infect others without knowing it because they have not developed symptoms.
Among the main symptoms are headache, fever, fatigue, muscle pain and vomiting, but they can take about 30 days to manifest, a period of time in which those infected can spread the disease.
Due to the success of the vaccine, which was introduced in 1955, polio cases declined significantly in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The last naturally occurring case was in 1979, although the last time a polio patient was detected in the country was in 2013, nine years ago. This last case, however, did not arise from a “wild strain”, as stated in the text.
“Vaccines have protected us against old and new viruses for decades. The fact is that there is a need for safe vaccines and we need New Yorkers to protect themselves from viruses like this one,” said New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan.
As of this Friday, Rockland County has set up a polio vaccination clinic at the Pomona Medical Complex. New Yorkers can register for free vaccinations.