HomeHealth Care NewsPolio is Back, Say New York Health Officials

Polio is Back, Say New York Health Officials

Health departments are debating how to respond to the news this summer of someone in Rockland County, New York who became paralyzed from a polio infection.

The news has raised alarm among some public health officials because the last transmission of polio was in 1979, according to an article in NPR on August 24, 2022. The article reports that few people with polio show symptoms and the fact that one person became paralyzed may suggest a more significant problem of people actively transmitting the virus.

“Clearly a confirmed case of polio in the United States is major news,” Irina Gelman, the. Commissioner of Health, in nearby Orange County, told NPR

The article suggests lower vaccination rates in the area could be to blame. “I mean, to put it bluntly, it’s just disappointing at this point that we are still here,” said Gelman. “This is a vaccine-preventable disease. And had everyone just been up to date on their vaccination, we would have continued to report it as being eradicated.”

Rockland County has set up polio immunization clinics for people who were never vaccinated.  Polio vaccines are part of the childhood immunization series.

The Role of Oral Polio Vaccine

One concern is the administration of the oral polio vaccine which uses live virus and is favored in the developing world.

“Bill Gates and others have the ambition to eradicate polio altogether–regardless of the cost it appears–although this is probably impossible,” says Jane Orient, M.D., the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

“U.S. children get the killed vaccine. Third-World children get the live vaccine because the killed vaccine is held to be insufficiently effective. Vaccinated children can transmit the virus to others, and the vaccine strain has paralyzed thousands,” said Orient. “Thus, there is much popular resistance to the program. Babies are likely to be asymptomatic but can transmit the virus through fecal-oral contact to older children and adults.”

Orient says before the Salk vaccine was available, high-dose IV vitamin c was used in some children, reportedly with great success.

“But instead of trying to learn how to treat the few who get sick (most probably get a very mild case and recover uneventfully and develop natural immunity), the emphasis is on trying to vaccinate everybody. This is non-evidence-based dogma,” said Orient.

“It is claimed that vaccine virtually eradicated polio in the U.S., but we still have acute flaccid paralysis–which clinically looks a lot like polio. New different disease? Or change of definition?” she asks.


AnneMarie Schieber (amschieber@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Health Care News.

This article was updated on September 7, 2022.

AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform.



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