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NEW YORK – New York health officials on Thursday reported the first polio case in the United States in almost a decade.

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According to The Associated Press, New York state officials said it appeared that the person had “a vaccine-derived strain of the virus,” which means it possibly came from someone who got the live vaccine that is available in other countries, and the person can spread the virus. The live vaccine apparently is not available in the United States.

Polio is a viral disease that can affect the nervous system and cause muscle weakness, NYSDOH said. It enters the mouth from contamination with fecal matter of someone who is already infected. It can also be transmitted through saliva.

Polio is also very contagious and can be spread through people who aren’t sick. Symptoms may not start showing for 30 days. And NYSDOH said that only rare cases lead to paralysis or death.

The New York State Department of Health in a news release said that the polio vaccine is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s standard child immunization schedule and people who are vaccinated are at lower risk for contracting it.

“Based on what we know about this case, and polio in general, the Department of Health strongly recommends that unvaccinated individuals get vaccinated or boosted with the FDA-approved IPV polio vaccine as soon as possible,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a news release. ”The polio vaccine is safe and effective, protecting against this potentially debilitating disease, and it has been part of the backbone of required, routine childhood immunizations recommended by health officials and public health agencies nationwide.”

Symptoms of polio, per NYSDOH:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting

“Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but when I was growing up, this disease struck fear in families, including my own,” County Executive Ed Day said in a news release. “The fact that it is still around decades after the vaccine was created shows you just how relentless it is. Do the right thing for your child and the greater good of your community and have your child vaccinated now.”

Vaccines were made available in 1955 nationwide and by 1979, polio was declared eliminated in the U.S. That means there was no longer a regular spread of polio across the country, according to the AP. In rare cases, travelers with polio have brought it to the U.S. and the last case was in 2013.

NYSDOH said vaccines are available through local health care providers. More information can be found on NYSDOH’s website and on CDC’s website.