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US doctor warns of undiagnosed polio cases, UK to issue reminder to children under 10

According to a New York state health official, there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of undiagnosed polio cases. It comes after it was announced last month that the virus had paralyzed an unvaccinated man in Rockland County, New York. Genetic analysis linked his case to polio virus in London and Jerusalem. He was informed that developed countries have increased their vaccination rates. Health Commissioner Dr Patricia Schnabel Ruppert has expressed concern that polio is spreading unknowingly. The majority of cases are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, and are therefore often overlooked. She further stated that this is a serious problem for the world and not just limited to New York.

The American man had “vaccine-derived” polio, which occurs when a country uses a weakened version of the virus for vaccination. A newer version of the vaccine, which contains no live virus, is used in the United States and other developed countries. Currently, only 60% are vaccinated in Rockland County. It also faced a measles outbreak in 2018. Field teams are being sent to encourage vaccinations, especially among children, the BBC reported.

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Further testing is currently underway in the UK following the discovery of traces of poliovirus over a period of weeks at Beckton sewage treatment plant during sewage monitoring. In order to stop the first community outbreak of polio in the country since the 1970s, vaccination boosters for children under 10 should be made available. The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) has urged parents to ensure their children have received all recommended vaccines, Mirror reported.

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Whether they are on their polio vaccination schedule or not, children are scheduled to be given boosters.

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Although there were no confirmed cases in patients, the volume of polio samples found in sewage monitoring suggests that the virus has spread from person to person. The virus enters a body through the mouth or nose. The virus can spread to the central nervous system and damage or kill cells that control nerves.

Once a person contracts poliomyelitis, there is no treatment; only vaccination can be used to prevent it.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 12:05pm on Thursday August 18th, 2022