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Polio in New York

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New York reports positive for polio, the first case in the U.S. since 2008

The United States is experiencing its first case of polio in more than a decade. According to several media, a man living in Rockland County, New York State, has been diagnosed with the disease, which had been eradicated from the country for 14 years. There had been no news of possible infections in the country since 2008, when the United States officially announced that polio had disappeared from the country.

The disease is common in countries in the Middle East and much of Africa, where it tends to spread rapidly. Although the WHO declared it eradicated in Africa in August 2020, a few cases have appeared in Madagascar in the last year, raising fears that it could return and cause another outbreak as in previous years. It favors the fact that Madagascar is an island, which makes this fear smaller.

In Europe, no case of polio has been recorded for 20 years. It was in June 2002 that the WHO stated that the disease had been eradicated on the continent, a relief for all European residents, as this disease was feared for many years by a large part of the population. Fortunately, very few countries are currently reporting cases, and it is almost taken for granted that what happened in the United States will be a one-off event.

What is polio and how to cure it?

Polio is a disease that dates back to the 19th century and is highly contagious. This disease, which is usually transmitted from person to person, damages the central nervous system and causes damage to the body that can lead to various consequences if the disease is not controlled in time. One of the most frequent sequelae in mild infections is muscle atrophy, which has occurred in most cases. Also paralysis of the face, although this is less common.

There are many levels of infection, although mild cases are the most common. In severe cases, the central nervous system can be very seriously damaged and the patient may die. However, these cases are very rare. The striking thing about polio is that most people who contract the disease usually do not show symptoms until they have been infected for several weeks.

The best news for preventing a hypothetical spread of polio in the future, assuming there were new outbreaks, is that there are already two vaccines that have traditionally been used against the disease. Both were approved more than half a century ago and are still used today to combat the disease. Their efficacy has meant that they are still used today, and thanks to them, this terrible disease is now almost irrelevant in the world.

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