In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread. Examples include measles, COVID, flu ... and polio.
Polio is the disease most people thought we had put behind us here in the United States. But earlier this summer, an individual in Rockland County, N.Y., contracted the virus likely from exposure in this country, and ended up paralyzed.
The last time there was community transmission of polio in the U.S. was 1979. The Americas were declared polio free in 1994. Though it's just one case of paralysis at the moment, public health officials — both locally and nationally — are taking the news very seriously.
Wastewater testing and genetic sequencing have shown the virus has been quietly circulating in a couple New York counties since at least May. And it recently was detected in New York City's wastewater. "Even a single case of paralytic polio represents a public health emergency in the United States," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared in a recent report.
Low vaccination rates in Rockland county mean there's a risk of more paralytic cases in that community, the report said. The challenges that health officials are facing while managing the local response in New York may indicate where other spots in the country could soon be headed.