Can I still get polio?

The Rockland County polio dilemma

Posted 8/16/22

When is a secret no longer a secret when it relates to health issues?

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Can I still get polio?

The Rockland County polio dilemma


When is a secret no longer a secret when it relates to health issues?

Recently, newspapers and the media reported a case of polio in Rockland County, NY. This happened in early June. Why did we hear about it weeks later? 

One source reported that the young man had traveled. Another source said he did not. One source said that he had paralysis, and others said that he originally had paralysis, but left the hospital fine. The county health department said that he was no longer contagious.

What we do know is that they isolated the Sabin Type 2 poliovirus from the young man. You can’t contract the Type 2 oral polio virus today in the U.S. from the vaccine. It is only given in third-world nations. The days of the sugar cube ended here in 2000. 

The live, weakened viruses in that oral polio vaccine have the potential to gain strength and cause polio in the individual that receives it. It can pass from feces into sewage and water, and can sicken others. We learned that it was found in sewage in June.

Once one contacts the polio virus, the person can be contagious seven to 10 days before and after symptoms begin, and the virus can be shed in the feces for up to six weeks.

Not everyone who comes in contact with the polio virus gets polio, but they can become carriers and infect others. Someone traveled, and that someone was recently immunized against polio with the oral vaccine. The patient, who was unvaccinated, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In this country we have a herd immunity to polio.

This case of polio is a rude awakening for parents who were not immunized against polio and who do not want to immunize their children against polio.

Can you still get polio? Yes you can, if you are not vaccinated. This is a perfect example.

If you and your family have been vaccinated against polio, you have nothing to worry about. If you were not, you should be immunized immediately. The poliovirus can easily be imported to a polio-free country and can spread rapidly among unimmunized populations. Failure to eradicate polio could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world. 

The only way to stop polio is by vaccination.

Michael Kossove is a professor emeritus, and is an adjunct professor of microbiology at Touro University’s School of Health Sciences. He is a polio survivor and polio researcher. He can be reached at

rockland county, polio, healthcare


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