About a million children in London given polio boosters after virus detected in sewage

‘Silent’ spread of polio in New York prompts CDC to consider additional vaccinations for some people

The case was identified in Rockland County, which has alarmingly low polio vaccination rates. Dr. José Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, noted that most people with polio are asymptomatic and can therefore unknowingly spread the virus.

“There are many people in the community who are infected with polio. They are spreading the virus,” he said. “Transmission is always possible because transmission will be silent.”

A team of CDC disease detectives traveled to Rockland County from agency headquarters in Atlanta last week and they were “very nervous” that polio “could get out of control very quickly and we could be in for a crisis,” the community health department said in a meeting with the team. leader.

“They are — what is the opposite of cautious optimism?” said another community leader, a vaccine education expert, who also met with the CDC team in Rockland County. Both leaders requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Polio can cause incurable paralysis and death, but thanks to vaccinations, most people in the United States are protected. Others, however, may be susceptible to the virus for a variety of reasons.

Unvaccinated and unvaccinated people are vulnerable, with polio vaccination rates around 60 percent in Rockland County and Orange County, which borders just north of New York City, compared with 93 percent nationally. People who are immunocompromised can be vulnerable even when fully vaccinated.
Romero said the CDC is considering options to protect people from polio, including giving children in the area extra immunizations, as British health authorities are now doing in London, or sending them to polio. Additional doses are recommended for some adults.

“We’re looking at every aspect of how to deal with this. At this point, we don’t have a clear answer,” he said.

A “Silent Killer”

The Rockland County polio case is the first to be detected in the U.S. in nearly a decade.

The virus has also been found in sewage in Rockland County and neighboring Orange County. Positive samples are genetically linked to individual cases, but no other cases have been reported in the United States.
New York adult diagnosed with polio, first U.S. case in nearly a decade
According to the CDC, about three-quarters of people with polio have no symptoms, but they are still able to spread the virus to others. Among others, most have symptoms such as a sore throat or headache that are easily overlooked or confused with other medical conditions. Only a relatively small number, about 1 in 200 infected people, are paralyzed. Some paralyzed people died because they couldn’t breathe.
In the late 1940s, the polio epidemic in the United States resulted in an average of more than 35,000 disabilities per year. A vaccination campaign began in 1955, and cases dropped rapidly. Today, a full round of childhood polio vaccinations — four doses of the vaccine between 2 months of age and 6 years of age — are at least 99 percent effective, according to the CDC.
But in recent decades, some small groups have not vaccinated their children against the virus. One of them is the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York, including in Rockland County.

The community health chief said the largely religious Jewish community in Rockland County has united in an effort to educate the “outliers” of refusing vaccinations.

“It’s a silent killer, like carbon monoxide, and we don’t know when it’s going to hit us,” she said.

“Press release won’t cut it”

The vaccine educator said the CDC team has been working on learning the best ways to communicate with members of this community, who often don’t use the internet but get a lot of information from the messaging platform WhatsApp and community newspapers.

This week, Rockland County and local health care providers distributed an infographic in English and Yiddish announcing that “polio is spreading in Rockland County.”

In a meeting with the CDC team, “we talked about a message that needed to resonate, and a press release wouldn’t cut it,” said the Rockland County vaccine educator.

Dr. Mary Leahy, CEO of Bon Secours Charity Health System, the largest health care provider in Rockland County and a member of WMCHealth, participated in a meeting with the CDC and said to let people who have not vaccinated their children against polio Knowing the severity of the disease, “I turned to my grandparents and great-grandparents who actually lived through the polio era in the ’40s and ’50s.”

That makes sense for Romero.

“I grew up in Mexico. I saw this disease and complications,” he said. “I go to school with kids with braces.”

He said many Americans fail to recognize the “devastating” effects of polio’s “lifelong paralysis.”

“I think most of the American public has never seen a case of polio. People have lost their fear of the disease, if you will.”

CNN’s Danielle Herman and John Bonifield contributed to this report.

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