USA Loses Polio-Free Status
The U.S. CDC announced yesterday that polioviruses found in New York wastewater samples and a local case of paralytic polio in an unvaccinated person in Rockland County mean that poliovirus continues to be transmitted in surrounding areas.
The viral sequences from the Rockland County patient and three wastewater specimens had enough genetic changes to meet the vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) definition.
These two findings – one individual with VDPV and at least one detection of a related VDPV in an environmental sample, has met the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of circulating VDPV.
The CDC confirmed on September 13, 2022, that it submitted this data to the WHO for inclusion on its list of thirty countries with cVDPV.
The USA had been polio-free since 1979.
'There are global recommendations for countries with cVDPV2 outbreaks to protect people from polio, and the USA is taking all appropriate actions to prevent new cases of paralysis,' stated the CDC's media announcement.
As previously reported, the virus' genetic sequences from the Rockland County polio patient and New York wastewater specimens have been linked to wastewater samples in Israel and the U.K., indicating community transmission across countries.
As poliovirus circulates and more genetic changes occur, the virus can regain its ability to infect the central nervous system and cause paralysis.
"Polio vaccination is the safest and best way to fight this debilitating disease, and it is imperative that people in these communities who are unvaccinated get up to date on polio vaccination right away," stated Dr. José R. Romero, Director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in the related press release.
"We cannot emphasize enough that polio is a dangerous disease for which there is no cure."
And a recent sequence analysis from the CDC found poliovirus in samples collected from Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, New York City, and now, Nassau County.
The sample collected in August 2022 from Nassau County has been genetically linked to the case of paralytic polio previously identified in Rockland County, further evidence of expanding community spread.
In reaction to these findings, New York's Governor took significant action.
On September 9, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul issued an Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a State Disaster Emergency, increasing the availability of resources to protect New Yorkers against paralytic disease.
While no additional polio cases have been found in New York, E.O. #21 helps the state expand vaccination efforts and surveillance. Improving vaccination coverage is the key to preventing further cases of paralytic polio in the USA.
The WHO recently reaffirmed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Poliovirus has been confirmed in non-endemic countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, India, and the United Kingdom in 2022.
In recent years, the polio-endemic countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan have often reported polio outbreaks.
Poliovirus spreads through person-to-person contact and lives in an infected person's throat and intestines.
According to the CDC, poliovirus is hard to detect when relying on clinical symptoms.
Following the introduction of polio vaccines, specifically, the trivalent inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) in 1955 and trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) in 1963, the number of polio cases fell rapidly to less than 100 in the 1960s and fewer than 10 in the 1970s.
It's important to note that cVDPVs are not caused by a child receiving the polio vaccine, confirms the CDC.
The oral polio vaccine has not been used or licensed in the USA since 2000 but continues to be used in some countries.
The IPV is the only polio vaccine that has been given in the USA since 2000.
The IPOL IPV vaccine is indicated for active immunization of infants, children, and adults to prevent poliomyelitis caused by poliovirus types 1, 2, and 3.
It is given by a shot in the arm or leg, depending on the person's age, and is available at most clinics and pharmacies in the USA.
Other polio outbreak news is posted at PrecisionVaccinations.com/Polio.
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