US reports first case of polio in 40 years. Here is what you need to know about the virus

Polio infection identified in US for the first time in 40 years

A case of polio infection was recorded in the United States for the first time in 40 years. The disease was identified in a resident of Rockland County, New York, representatives of the local health department said, Spectrum News reports.

"Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but when I was growing up this disease struck fear in families, including my own. The fact that it is still around decades after the vaccine was created shows you just how relentless it is. Do the right thing for your child and the greater good of your community and have your child vaccinated now," Rockland County Executive Ed Day said.

It was clarified that the local resident may have contracted the disease outside the United States.

Poliomyelitis affects the central nervous system and may lead to disability or even death. The disease is most common in infants and children. The vaccine against the disease was introduced in the US in 1955. The vaccine stopped the prolonged epidemic in the country that left 21,000 paralyzed and killed 3,175. Last natural cases of polio in the United States were reported in 1979.

The virus is transmitted from human to human and may cause deterioration of the spinal cord, causing paralysis of the body.

Most people infected with poliovirus (about 72 out of 100) will not have any pronounced symptoms of the disease. About one in every four people with poliovirus infection will have flu-like symptoms, which may include:

  • sore throat
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • headache
  • abdominal pain

These symptoms usually last from tow to five days and then disappear.

Fewer people with poliovirus infection will develop other, more severe symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord:

  • Paresthesia (tingling sensation in the legs)
  • Meningitis (infection of the lining of the spinal cord and/or brain) occurs in about one in 25 people with poliovirus infection.
  • Paralysis (a person can not move parts of their body) or weakness in the arms, legs, or both occurs in about one in every 200 people with poliovirus infection.

Paralysis is the most severe symptom of the disease as it may lead to permanent disability and death. Poliovirus may cause death because the virus attacks the muscles that help us breathe.

After full recovery, children may develop new muscle pains, weakness, or paralysis as they reach adulthood. This is called post-polio syndrome. Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that may affect polio survivors decades after they have recovered from their original poliovirus infection.

Poliovirus is highly contagious. It spreads from person to person. It lives in the throat and in the intestines of an infected person. Poliovirus only infects humans. It enters the body through the mouth and spreads through:

  • Contact with the faeces of an infected person.
  • Sneeze or cough droplets from an infected person (less commonly).

An infected person can transmit the virus to other people immediately before and up to 2 weeks after the onset of symptoms.

There are two types of vaccine that can prevent polio:

  • The inactivated poliovirus (IPV) vaccine is administered as an injection in the leg or the arm, depending on the patient's age.
  • Oral polio vaccine (OPV) is still in use in many parts of the world.

Almost all children (99 out of 100) who receive all recommended doses of inactivated polio vaccine will be protected from polio.

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Author`s name Editorial Team
Editor Dmitry Sudakov