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USA Joins Polio-Risk Country List

September 16, 2022 • 1:52 pm CDT
by Pete Linforth
(Vax Before Travel)

The inconsistent polio vaccine coverage worldwide, compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on routine childhood immunizations, has led poliovirus to be found in unexpected places. 

Unfortunately, the USA is one of those places.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that the USA had met the World Health Organization (WHO)’s criteria for circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).

The USA has now joined a list of about thirty countries where poliovirus has been detected, and/or polio patients have been identified in 2022.

As previously reported, the poliovirus genetic sequences from the patient from Rockland County, NY, and wastewater specimens collected in other New York countries, have been linked to wastewater samples in Israel and London, indicating community transmission.

Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus occurs when local immunity to poliovirus is low enough to allow prolonged transmission of the original weakened virus in the oral polio vaccine.

As the virus circulates and more genetic changes occur, it can regain its ability to infect the central nervous system and cause paralysis.

It’s important to note that cVDPVs are not caused by a child receiving the polio vaccine.

The oral polio vaccine has not been used or licensed in the U.S. since 2000 but continues to be used in some countries.

“Polio vaccination is the safest and best way to fight this debilitating disease, and it is imperative that people in these communities who are unvaccinated get up to date on polio vaccination right away,” said Dr. José R. Romero, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stated in a CDC media release on September 13, 2022.

“We cannot emphasize enough that polio is a dangerous disease for which there is no cure.”

It’s important to note that no additional polio cases have been reported in the USA since September 16, 2022.

The CDC continues to support the New York State Department of Health’s investigation through ongoing wastewater testing to understand the possible spread of the poliovirus better and by supporting vaccination efforts in the affected communities.

The state of New York, and New York City Health, are encouraging polio vaccinations for various people, as detailed on this webpage.

Polio vaccines are generally available at clinics and pharmacies in the USA.

Other polio outbreak news is posted at Vax-Before-Travel.com/Polio.

Note: This information was manually curated for international travelers.

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