The World Health Organization has added the US to the list of countries with polio in circulation. It joins Somalia, Yemen and Israel

The World Health Organization has added the US to the list of countries with polio in circulation.  It joins Somalia, Yemen and Israel

The US has been added to the World Health Organization’s list of countries with polio, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday.

It now joins about 30 other countries with outbreaks, including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Yemen, Israel and the UK

“We cannot emphasize enough that polio is a dangerous disease for which there is no cure,” said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a statement urging anyone unvaccinated to get vaccinated. .


In July of this year, an unvaccinated 20-year-old man in Rockland County, New York, was diagnosed with polio and paralyzed by the virus. Since then, polio has been detected in wastewater samples in neighboring provinces.

Genetic sequencing has linked the paralyzed man’s case and wastewater samples from New York with wastewater samples in Jerusalem, Israel and London, suggesting community transmission, according to the CDC.

Each case of paralytic polio probably represents hundreds of additional infections with flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, experts say.

Last week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency over the polio outbreak in an effort to expand vaccination efforts and surveillance.

Ignorant vaccination, infection

Until recently, no cases of the sometimes disabling, sometimes fatal virus had been reported in the US since 1979.

The Pan American Health Organization declared in 1994 that the virus had been eradicated in America. But other countries, such as India and Sudan, continue to struggle with outbreaks of the virus, of which there are multiple types.

Eliminated polio viruses do not return. Instead, the bodies of those vaccinated outside the US with live attenuated vaccines rarely, but sometimes, mutate an inactivated virus into an activated virus.

That virus can be excreted through the gastrointestinal tract. In this way, the vaccinated can unknowingly vaccinate others — or cause the spread of an activated virus, experts say.

The US stopped using live attenuated vaccines in 2000.

Transmission of polio is fecal-oral, meaning a person becomes infected by touching fecal matter (even if particles are so small that they are not visible) or an object contaminated with it, and then touching their mouth. The virus can be transmitted through food or water handled under unsanitary conditions. More rarely, droplets from a sneeze or cough from someone with polio can infect someone else, according to the CDC.

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