Update 4th August 2022
Wastewater samples taken from two different locations in Orange County, New York during the months of June and July tested positive for the virus which suggest possible community spread.
Poliomyelitis or polio is a crippling disease caused by any one of the three related viruses; poliovirus type 1, 2 or 3. It is spread through the fecal/oral route which means the virus enters the body through the mouth when people eat food or drink contaminated with the feces of an infected person.
The virus multiplies in the bloodstream, invades the nerve cells and results in damage or destruction causing paralysis. The virus spreads easily in areas with poor hygiene.
Signs and symptoms
Fever, loose stools, sore throat, upset stomach, headache, stomach, severe muscle pain, paralysis. Complications of polio can result in death if respiratory muscles of the chest are affected. Ventilator support and intense physiotherapy is needed to regain full function in such cases.
Initial symptoms like fever, loose stools, sore throat, headache, muscle pain can be relieved with medication, however paralysis from polio cannot be cured. A respirator can help patients who have difficulty in breathing.
Regular physiotherapy as well as orthopedic treatment (the use of braces/ orthotic devices) and operations and can help to reduce the long-term crippling effects of polio.
Polio is prevented with the polio vaccine. The vaccine is available in oral or injectable form.
The TCI remains polio free. The last reported case of polio in the TCI was in 1978. Although the country is considered to have good herd immunity, with a country coverage of above 90% in primary doses over decades, there are still unvaccinated residents who are at great risk of contracting the disease if they come in contact with the virus. Because of the nature of the disease, one case of polio in the TCI is considered an outbreak.
Currently the Primary Health Care Department within the Ministry of Health is only offering polio vaccine to children as a part of the routine vaccination programme. Plans are underway to procure additional supply of the vaccine for unvaccinated individuals and adults who are unsure of their immune status.
For more information on polio disease check out reputable sites like CDC and the World Health Organization. Continue to monitor the Ministry of Health Facebook page for updates. While the vaccine is only being offered at this time to children, we encourage parents of unvaccinated children to bring them in for their missing doses.
Help us to keep the TCI Polio free!