In the summer of 2022, a case of polio in an adult was diagnosed in a New York suburb. This patient was paralyzed. Since then, traces of the virus have been detected in the wastewater in several counties around New York City. As a result, New York declared a state of emergency.
What is polio?
Polio is a contagious disease that can lead to paralysis, disability, or even death. While there is no cure, it is preventable by getting vaccinated against polio. Most children in the U.S. have received a polio series as part of their routine immunizations.
What is the history of polio?
In the 1950s, the U.S. had a significant polio outbreak, affecting tens of thousands of people. Through the efforts of the medical community, including Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin, polio vaccines were developed. Widespread use of these vaccines curtailed the polio virus over time by 99%.
Should you worry about polio?
If you are fully vaccinated against polio, you should be protected. The resurgence is very concerning because it may seriously affect unvaccinated individuals, particularly unvaccinated children. Polio is spread by infected stool or by infected respiratory droplets. Children who have the illness and have not washed their hands well or have respiratory secretions can easily spread the virus to their schoolmates or family while in close contact.
All medical professionals must remain diligent in offering the vaccine to their patients. In addition, patients should check with their doctors on whether they have fully completed their polio series.
What does the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend for polio protection?
The AAP recommends your child get the polio vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, between 12-18 months, and again between 4-6 years for a total of 4 doses before entering school.
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