A New York resident has tested positive for polio, the highly contagious viral disease that can cause muscle weakness, paralysis and death, state health officials said Thursday.
The New York State Department of Health said the person who tested positive for the disease lives in Rockland County, about 30 miles north of Manhattan.
The last known case of polio recorded in the U.S. was in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both the New York State Department of Health and the Rockland County Department of Health are urging healthcare providers to be on the lookout for additional cases.
The health departments also said people who are not vaccinated against polio should get vaccinated and those who are at risk of exposure should get a booster. The county is hosting vaccine clinics in the coming days.
“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. “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.”
The type of polio that the Rockland County resident has is "indicative of a transmission chain from an individual who received the oral polio vaccine," the New York State Department of Health said. The oral vaccine has not been used in the U.S. since 2000, indicating that the virus might have originated from somewhere outside the U.S.
Cases of polio were cut drastically in the 1950s and 1960s after the development of the vaccine.
It typically enters the body through the mouth "usually from hands contaminated with fecal matter of an infected person," according to the New York State Department of Health. "Respiratory and oral-to-oral transmission through saliva may also occur."
Polio is very contagious and a person can spread the virus even if they don't have symptoms, which can take up to 30 days to appear.