Of course, these events raised many questions: Why should a polio case concern the authorities? What does finding polio virus in wastewater mean? Who should worry about the disease? If someone got the vaccine years ago, is it still protected?

To learn more about this disease, which most people alive today have never experienced, I spoke with CNN medical analyst Dr. Leanna Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health. She is also a writer “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.”

CNN: So far, there is only one documented case of polio-related paralysis in New York. Why should an issue concern health officials?

Dr. A.S. Liana Wen: An August From the CDC report “Even a single case of paralytic polio represents a public health emergency in the United States,” he said. This is for two main reasons.
First, polio is a disease that can have very serious consequences. The peak period in the 1940s and 1950sPolio paralyzes tens of thousands of children every year. Thousands have died from the virus.
This changed with the introduction of highly effective vaccines — More than 99% effective Preventing paralytic polio. Thanks to massive vaccination campaigns, the last wild-type polio occurred in 1979 — and it was thought to be eradicated in the United States. The reappearance of such a disease that can have such a serious impact is a big concern.
My mother has been living with polio throughout her life.
Second, a single case of paralytic polio may be the tip of a large iceberg. Most of them Cases of polio infection They are asymptomatic and do not cause paralysis. Symptoms — which can include fatigue, fever and diarrhea — may be mild and similar to those of other viruses. Public health officials worry that there are many more people who have polio and may unknowingly transmit it.
This is of particular concern because of the polio vaccination rate in Rockland County, where the virus has recently been paralysed. Only 60%. In some parts of the county, vaccination rates are as low as 37 percent. These numbers are well below the level needed for herd immunity, and this means that there are many individuals in the area who are susceptible to polio infection and can have serious consequences.

CNN: What does it mean when polio virus was found in sewage in five counties, including New York City?

Wen: Finding poliovirus in sewage means one of two things: there are people with polio who are shedding the virus, or it could be a sign of the virus from people who have recently received the oral polio vaccine. OPV is no longer given in the United States – the version used in the US since 2000 is the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) – but other countries are still using OPV, and travelers from those places may be. They are shedding virus from the vaccine.

In the year  Aug. 25 Wastewater samples in a lab at Queens College in New York City.

In rare cases, the weakened virus from people who have received OPV can cause paralytic polio in unvaccinated people – which is the main reason OPV is not used in the US.

An additional point of concern is a wastewater sample taken from Nassau County on Long Island. Genetically related For a case of diagnosed paralytic polio in Rockland County. (The two counties are about 40 miles apart, not adjacent.) This is further evidence of community diffusion that goes largely unnoticed.

CNN: How do people get polio?

Wen: Polio is an infectious disease. It can be transmitted in several ways. The main route is faecal-oral, which means that a person can contract polio if they come in contact with the faeces of an infected person. This can happen, especially in children, by putting things in their mouths, such as toys, that have been contaminated with faeces.
Polio virus can also be spread through the respiratory tract — for example, if an infected person coughs or sneezes and those droplets land around your mouth. Vaccinated people have no value In addition, polio can be transmitted to othersAlthough they themselves are very protected from serious diseases.

CNN: Should New Yorkers be worried about getting polio?

Wen: Again, people who have been vaccinated against polio are extremely protected against paralytic polio, and should not worry at this point. However, it should be noted that while IPV is very effective in preventing the worst effects of the disease, people who have been vaccinated can still carry polio and transmit it to others. Those most at risk of serious consequences are the unvaccinated and under-vaccinated, including young children under 6 years of age who have not yet completed their polio vaccinations.

CNN: How many polio vaccines should someone get?

Wen: of CDC It recommends that children receive four doses of IPV. The first is given in 2 months, the second in 4 months, the third in 6 to 18 months and the fourth in 4 to 6 years.

Adults who have never been vaccinated against polio should receive three doses of IPV. The first should be given as soon as possible, the second one to two months later and the third six to 12 months later.

CNN: If someone got the vaccine years ago, is it still protected? Who should get the polio booster now?

Wen: Prevention from serious diseases It remains strong for many years After vaccination: It is believed to last a lifetime. Most vaccinated people do not need to get an extra dose.
Comment: How the virus came back from the dead
However, if a person does not complete the first vaccination series, they should take the remaining dose. Some fully vaccinated individuals may experience additional lifetime IPV boosters. In certain circumstances — For example, if they have been in direct contact with someone who has suspected polio or are health care workers who are at increased risk of exposure to people who are at risk of the disease.

CNN: What if you’re not sure if you should get vaccinated? Don’t remember getting the vaccine and it’s been years. Is there a blood test you can take to confirm either way?

Wen: You can check with your primary care physician’s office or state health department to see if your immunization records are available. If they don’t and you have no other way to make sure—for example, by asking parents or other relatives or caregivers—you should talk to your health care provider about getting a full polio vaccine. There is no blood test that can reliably confirm whether or not you have been fully vaccinated against polio.

CNN: What if you or your family members haven’t received the polio vaccine yet?

Wen: People who have not yet received a dose or are incompletely vaccinated should receive their full polio vaccine immediately. This is especially important if you live in or around Rockland County, New York — but of course, everyone should be up to date with their vaccinations.

Decades ago, it was a tragedy that many children were permanently paralyzed and died from polio. This should not happen again because we have effective vaccines to prevent the worst consequences of the disease.

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