Polio

Upcoming Polio Vaccine Clinic Dates

Clinics will be by appointment only. Please call (845) 291-2330.

Date Time Location
September 14th 1:15pm-3:30pm 18 Seward Avenue, Middletown, NY 10940
September 20th 9:30am-3:30pm 130 Broadway, Newburgh, NY 12550

What is polio?

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the fecal-oral route or, less frequently, contaminated water or food. It multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis.

What are the symptoms of polio?

Most people who get infected with poliovirus will not have any visible symptoms.

A smaller proportion of people with poliovirus infection will develop serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord:

  • Paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles in the legs)
  • Meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain)
  • Paralysis (can't move parts of the body) or weakness in the arms, legs, or both, occurs in about 1 out of 200 people with poliovirus infection

Paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with polio, because it can lead to permanent disability and death. Between 2 and 10 out of 100 people who have paralysis from poliovirus infection die, because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.

Transmission

  • Poliovirus is very contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact.
  • It lives in an infected person's throat and intestines.
  • It can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.

Poliovirus only infects people. It enters the body through the mouth. It spreads through:

  • Contact with feces (poop) of an infected person.
  • Droplets from a sneeze or cough of an infected person (less common).

You can get infected with poliovirus if:

  • You have picked up minute pieces of feces on your hands, and you touch your mouth.
  • You put in your mouth objects like toys that are contaminated with feces.

An infected person can spread the virus to others immediately before and up to 2 weeks after symptoms appear.

  • The virus can live in an infected person's intestines for many weeks. It can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.
  • People who don't have symptoms can still pass the virus to others and make them sick. 

Prevention

There are two types of vaccine that can prevent polio:

  • Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on the patient's age. Only IPV has been used in the United States since 2000.
  • Oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) is still used throughout much of the world.

Polio vaccine protects children by preparing their bodies to fight the poliovirus. Almost all children (more than 99 percent) who get all the recommended doses of the inactivated polio vaccine will be protected from polio.

It is also very important to practice good hand hygiene and wash hands often with soap and water. Note that alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill poliovirus.

Is the polio virus circulating in the county?

Wastewater samples taken from Orange County between June and August 2022 had detectable polio virus. At this time, the County is continuing to conduct surveillance activities to determine if the virus is circulating. 

How can we stop the virus from circulating?

Circulation only happens or continues IF OVERALL VACCINATION RATES REMAIN LOW. If the community has sufficient immunized individuals, the polio virus cannot circulate. This is how the poliovirus was eradicated in our country.

As such, community members should seek to get immunized immediately if they are not yet vaccinated. This step will protect both the person getting vaccinated and our community.

Who should get vaccinated?

Those who are unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or unsure, should arrange for vaccination immediately.