US joins Congo and Yemen on WHO watch-list for countries where polio is spreading: Virus found in wastewater from five New York counties
The United States has joined the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen and Somalia on a watch-list of nations where polio is spreading.
The virus has been detected in wastewater from five counties in New York, and one man in the state has been paralyzed by an infection.
In a release Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this meant the U.S. would now be placed on the list of about 30 nations where the nearly-eradicated virus is thought to be spreading again. The UK and Israel, which both detected polio this year, are also on the list.
It was not clear whether the U.S. has lost its polio eradication status held since 1979, but there have been no cases of the virus’ wild type recorded to date.
Most people who catch polio suffer no symptoms, but about one in 20 face an infection of the brain or spinal cord. In rare cases it can also trigger paralysis. To combat the virus the U.S. has launched a comprehensive vaccination programme.
The United States has been added to the World Health Organization’s list of countries where vaccine-derived poliovirus is spreading.
Vaccine-derived polio is when the weakened virus used in jabs spreads from the inoculated individual to others and partially mutates back towards the more dangerous wild type.
The oral vaccine that uses this weakened virus has not been dished out in the U.S. since 2000, with the country switching to the inactivated polio jab. But it is still used in some countries.