The CDC reported on Tuesday that the US now satisfies the requirements to be added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of nations where circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) has been discovered and is in circulation. This is because of a persistent outbreak that has affected Rockland County, New York, and the neighboring areas. Around 30 more nations, including the UK, Ukraine, Israel, Yemen, and a huge number of low- and middle-income African nations, have joined them on the watchlist.
Beginning in July 2022, when an unvaccinated person in Rockland County became the nation’s first confirmed case of polio since 2013, everything got underway. Poliovirus was later found in Rockland Country sewer water samples dating back to June 2022 after CDC investigation, indicating that this single case was only the beginning.
The US now satisfies the WHO’s definition of a country with circulating cVDPV after the virus was found in a person and an environmental sample.
The majority of people who contract polio, a highly contagious viral illness that can weaken muscles and impair the nervous system, are youngsters under the age of five. A safe and effective vaccination (which does not contain the weak virus found in the oral polio vaccine) has made the disease, which only a few decades ago posed a serious threat to the population, avoidable.
The virus is a type 2 VDPV strain (vaccine-derived poliovirus). These polioviruses share genetic ancestry with a virus that was modified for use in some earlier iterations of the oral polio vaccination. The virus can change over time and behave more like the naturally occurring virus, which makes it possible for the unvaccinated to contract the disease.
However, because the oral polio vaccination has not been used in the US for decades, it seems likely that the cases were brought in from countries where this particular vaccine is still in use. Additionally noteworthy is the fact that Rockland Country has a lower immunization rate than the majority of the US.
The CDC emphasized that vaccination remains the most effective strategy to prevent this condition and that cVDPVs are not brought on by children receiving the polio vaccine.
According to Dr. José R. Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, “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.”