New York resident tests positive for polio, first reported U.S. case in nearly a decade

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A New Yorker has tested positive for polio, a highly contagious viral disease that can cause muscle weakness, paralysis and death, according to state health officials. He said Thursday.

The New York State Department of Health said the person who tested positive for the disease lives in Rockland County, about 30 miles north of Manhattan.

The last known case of polio recorded in the United States was in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Both the New York State Department of Health and the Rockland County Health Department are urging health care providers to look for additional cases.

Health departments also said that people who have not been vaccinated against polio should get vaccinated and that those at high risk of exposure should get a booster dose. The county is hosting vaccination clinics in the coming days.

“Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but when I was growing up, this disease sparked fear in families, including mine,” County Executive Ed Day said.. “The fact that it is still nearly decades after the vaccine was created shows you just how powerful it is. Do the right thing for your child and the greater good of your community and vaccinate your child now.”

The New York State Department of Health said the type of polio experienced by residents of Rockland County “is indicative of a chain of transmission from an individual who received oral polio vaccine.” The oral vaccine has not been used in the United States since 2000, which suggests that the virus may have originated from somewhere outside the United States.

Polio cases were drastically reduced in the 1950s and 1960s after the development of the vaccine.

It usually enters the body through the mouth, “usually from hands contaminated with the feces of an infected person,” according to the New York State Department of Health. “Respiratory and mouth-to-mouth transmission via saliva may also occur.”

Polio is highly contagious and anyone can spread the virus even if they have no symptoms, which can take up to 30 days to appear.

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