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US doctor warns of many undiagnosed polio cases

Published on 09/08/22 at 12:10pm

A doctor in New York State has warned that there could be hundreds, or even thousands, of undiagnosed cases of polio in the region, according to the BBC.

This news follows an announcement from last month about an unvaccinated man who had been paralysed by polio. He is based in Rockland County, New York, and his case has been linked genetically to traces of polio virus found in sewage in London and Jerusalem.

Dr Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, health commissioner for Rockland County, said she was worried about polio circulating undetected in the state.

Polio is a life-threatening disease, caused by a virus which spreads very easily between people. It is usually spread through contact with the faecal matter of an infected person, or from contaminated food or water. As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. There is a continuous need to eradicate polio from every country, as failure to do so could result in a global resurgence of the disease.

Dr Ruppert said: "This is a very serious issue for our global world - it's not just about New York. We all need to make sure all our populations are properly vaccinated.”

"There isn't just one case of polio if you see a paralytic case. The incidence of paralytic polio is less than 1%," she said.

"Most cases are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and those symptoms are often missed.

Certain areas in Rockland County have historically low vaccination rates, in somep laces this is only 60%.

There are now field teams being assigned to these areas, to increase vaccine uptake, particularly in children.

Lina Adams

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