Polio has re-emerged in the United States. Here’s how to keep yourself safe.

A Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist describes the first reported case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade as a “significant event.”

Since the case was reported last week, New York state health officials have set up two polio vaccination clinics. The patient, a Rockland County resident, is a young adult who has not been vaccinated against polio and has since been paralyzed.

Health officials say their symptoms started about a month ago.

“[That] “It means that in that month, that person was transmitting the virus and potentially infecting others who don’t have good hand hygiene,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

Rockland County health officials have deemed the patient no longer contagious, but investigators are still working to find out if other people have been exposed to this highly contagious virus.

While transmission from the respiratory tract and saliva is possible, polio usually enters the body through the mouth from hands contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

With the case in New York, health officials say the person likely got it from someone who had the less effective oral polio vaccine. It is used in other parts of the world but has not been administered in the United States since 2000.

“Right now, the oral polio vaccine is a weak but live form of these [polio viruses]What is being managed in the United States now is inactive polio,” Poland said. [It] It protects you very well from polio and does not put you at risk of contracting polio.”

While the virus was brought into the country by travelers infected with polio, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the United States has been polio-free since 1979.

Vaccination rates are measured in two ways in Minnesota: nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and locally by the Minnesota Department of Health. The most recent data from 2018 shows polio vaccination rates for two-year-olds in the high 80% and low 90% range.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure children are free of diseases like polio, which can have lifelong effects and leave children paralyzed or disabled,” said Dr. Gigi Chawla, vice president and chief of general pediatrics at Minnesota Children’s.

Chawla adds that vaccination is the best defense against the virus and says adults can get vaccinated, too.

Children in Minnesota have information about scheduling the polio vaccine, and you can find out if you’ve had the polio vaccination through the MDH website.

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