The first US polio case in over a decade

July 23rd 2022

It was not so long ago (1950) that the lack of a polio vaccine led to debilitating developmental defects in our population. Because of decades of research to develop the oral polio vaccine, children today know nothing of the fear that polio brought to the United States every summer well into the 20th century. Swimming pools and movie theaters were closed and children were kept inside their homes by frightened parents. Worldwide, the disease killed millions of people and left legions of others permanently disabled. By 1979, however, and through the research of Albert Sabin using monkeys, a vaccine was developed and polio was considered to be eradicated.

“On the contrary, my own experience of more than 60 years in biomedical research amply demonstrated that without the use of animals and of human beings, it would have been impossible to acquire the important knowledge needed to prevent much suffering and premature death not only among humans but also among animals.

In my 1956 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 162, p. 1589), I stated that during the preceding four years “approximately 9,000 monkeys, 150 chimpanzees and 133 human volunteers were used thus far in studies of various characteristics of different poliovirus strains.” These studies were necessary to solve many problems before an oral polio-virus vaccine could become a reality.

Albert B. Sabin, M.D.”

Now, this may all change. We have seen a dramatic decrease in overall vaccination rates in children. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have reported the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years. Part of this is precipitated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the remaining, however, stems from fearmongering by news outlets, social media and other media channels where non-fact checked information is rapidly circulated.

It is unsurprising therefore that a young adult in Rockland County, New York has become the first US resident in nearly a decade to contract polio. Officials say the person was unvaccinated and was probably exposed to an individual who received a vaccine that contains the weakened live virus.

According to the BBC:

“Americans are typically vaccinated with a three- or four-dose regimen that begins at two months old.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 93% of toddlers have received at least three doses of the polio jab. But whereas the US and other countries use jabs made with an inactivated version of the virus, some countries orally administer a vaccine that uses the virus in a weakened live form. That weakened virus may, in rare instances, mutate and risk a fresh outbreak. Like the patient in Rockland County, the last reported polio case in the US – a seven-month-old child who moved from India to the state of Texas in 2013 – was a vaccine-derived strain.”

We will reiterate here, what all readers of our blog know to be a fact, the only way to avoid contracting polio is to get vaccinated. Without vaccinations our future is indeed dire.

Photo showing polio patients at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in California in 1953.

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