If measles has made a comeback, could polio be far behind? Since the measles outbreak in California began to spread, health officials have been worrying that polio could also reappear.
"We have a perfect storm for polio to make a re-appearance in the American scene," Dr. Robert Daum of the University of Chicago told Chicago's CBS local news.
That's because the disease still exists in other parts of the world. Although polio has been considered eliminated in the United States since 1979 and most children are vaccinated against it, about 7 percent aren't. “We are nowhere near 100 percent coverage with the vaccine,” Daum says. "Some parents are concerned about vaccines and some kids don’t get medical care at all."
It would only take one case from overseas, where there are at least 300 cases each year, to bring polio to our shores.
"Someone could come from Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan … and be a carrier of the virus and then pass it on to people who are not vaccinated," John Hewko of Rotary International tells CBS.
What’s more, there’s an issue with the current vaccine that’s been used here since 2000: While it makes people immune to polio, they could still catch and carry the virus, passing it along to other people while not becoming ill themselves.
“The virus will, I like to say 'whistle' through the population, not causing disease until it finds someone who has not been immunized," says Daum.
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