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Putnam County Health Department Prepared for Polio Cases

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The Putnam County Health Department is prepared for any cases of polio that may occur following the identification recently of a rare case in Rockland County.

“The identification of a polio case in New York State this week has reinvigorated the importance of adhering to the CDC childhood immunization schedule,” said Putnam County Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Nesheiwat. “In this particular case, there is indication that transmission occurred from an individual who received the oral polio vaccine (OPV), which has not been available in this country since 2000. The only polio vaccine available in the U.S. is the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), which cannot result in polio infection, as it does not contain live virus.”

Because of widespread vaccination, the last naturally occurring polio infection in the United States was in 1979. Polio is a viral disease that may affect the neurologic system, causing muscle weakness and, in certain cases, may result in paralysis or death.

“Vaccinated residents are not considered at significant risk. Any resident who is unvaccinated, has not completed the polio vaccination series, or is at high-risk for transmission is encouraged to contact their healthcare provider or the health department to schedule polio vaccination,” Nesheiwat explained.

“It is vital that we continue to assure residents of the safety and efficacy of vaccines. It is equally as important for us to remind people that the vaccination efforts of the past allow us to live healthier and safer lives today,” he continued. “For example, smallpox has been eradicated worldwide thanks to successful global vaccination efforts, and children today no longer need to receive the smallpox vaccination. What we do today helps determine which vaccine-preventable diseases are no longer a threat for future generations.”

County Executive MaryEllen Odell said the general public does not need to be concerned for their health or safety.

“Our health department maintains a substantial vaccine inventory and is prepared to vaccinate any residents at risk for polio,” Odell stated. “Because polio is a required childhood immunization to attend schools in New York State, we know the majority of our residents are protected against this viral disease.”

For more information, residents can visit the county website at www.putnamcountyny.com.

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