The latest case was a type “indicative of a transmission chain from an individual who received the oral polio vaccine (OPV),” officials said.
The person is no longer deemed contagious, but investigators are trying to figure out how the infection occurred and whether others were exposed.
The patient has been discharged and living at his parents’ home with his wife. He can stand but is having difficulty walking, as reported by The Washington Post newspaper.
The oral vaccine was discontinued in the United States in 2000. “This suggests that the virus may have originated in a location outside of the US where OPV is administered, since revertant strains cannot emerge from inactivated vaccines,” New York’s Health Department said in a statement.
Americans have been vaccinated with a three- or four-dose regimen but polio infection has been prevalent in the United States only in foreign travelers.
Officials also told healthcare providers to be on the lookout for more cases and warned people in the area who are not vaccinated to get the shot.
Paralysis can occur within a few hours of infection and of those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when they are not able to move their breathing muscles, as per the World Health Organization (WHO).
Treatments for polio focuses on limiting and alleviating the symptoms and could improve mobility but cannot reverse permanent polio paralysis.
Physical therapy can aid in stimulating the muscles, while drugs can also help them relax.
However, two vaccines for poliovirus are available: oral polio and inactivated polio, which mean that it is rare in most parts of the world.
Eradication of Polio in the United States: A Myth or Reality?
In recent decades, due to a major global effort it has become a step closer to eradicating polio that mainly affects children under the age of five.
In the United States, cases declined dramatically after a vaccine was developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The last naturally occurring cases of polio in the United States were reported in 1979.
Since 1979, no cases of polio have appeared in the United States, but they have occurred in incoming travelers.
According to the US officials, the latest polio cases in the country are not wild strains; The last record recorded by the CDC was in 2013.
The United States saw an outbreak of polio in the 1940s, which paralyzed more than 35,000 people each year, according to CDC.
Since 1988, polio was endemic in 125 countries and cases have decreased by 99% since 350,000 cases were reported worldwide.
OPV replicates itself in the gut and can be transmitted to others through fecal-contaminated water – meaning that it would not harm a vaccinated child, but could infect neighbors where hygiene and immunization levels are low.
Although weaker than the wild poliovirus now found only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this variant can cause severe illness and paralysis in people who are not vaccinated against the disease.
Last month, the WHO and British Health Officials said that a vaccine-derived strain of poliovirus had been detected in London sewage samples.
WHO says that currently there is no cure for polio but it can be prevented with the help of vaccines.