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Canadian Doctors Urge Vaccination After First U.S. Polio Case In A Decade

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Canadian Doctors Urge Vaccination After First U.S. Polio Case In A Decade

(CTN News) – An unvaccinated American was recently diagnosed with the country’s first case of polio in nearly a decade, according to U.S. officials.

The virus has not been recorded in Health Canada in more than 25 years, but infectious disease experts say they keep their “ears open” for vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as polio, that continue to circulate elsewhere.

“Imported infections are just a flight away,” said Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health.

Dubey said some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused others to delay vaccination.

People returning to international travel after a two-year break are at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. As a result, global polio vaccination efforts were put on hold for part of that period.

Under international health regulations, a single case of polio triggers a public health response. When polio paralysis is diagnosed, many more people have likely been infected.

In Rockland County, N.Y., a paralyzed patient was diagnosed with polio. Health-care providers are being asked to watch for more cases and vaccine clinics are being held.

In most cases, poliovirus causes no symptoms or mild ones such as fever, malaise, nausea, diarrhea, sore throat, and low-grade fever. Infants and young children are most likely to contract illnesses, but adults who have not fully immunized are also at risk.

One to five percent of infections cause meningitis, and less than one percent result in paralysis.

With the introduction of immunization programs in the 1950s, polio cases in Canada decreased dramatically.

In Canada, the last wild poliovirus case occurred in 1977, while oral vaccine-associated cases persisted until 1995.

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