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(WJW/AP) – Polio has been spreading in New York; monkeypox was declared a national health emergency in the U.S. and the COVID-19 omicron subvariant BA.5 accounts for nearly 90% of current cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not to mention the Langya Henipavirus, or LayV, that has been discovered in China.
According to an epidemiologist and director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the uptick in infectious disease activity is the result of a culmination of global factors.
“That is a theme today. We have to expect this,” Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., told Becker’s Hospital Review, pointing to the rise of international travel and trade, household overcrowding and the increased movement of animals around the world as factors contributing to rising infectious disease risks.
At the same time, the growing threats of antibiotic resistance and vaccine hesitancy are complicating efforts to fight these diseases, according to Osterholm.
In addition, health care workers around the globe have resigned due to stress, burnout and the ongoing pandemic.
“So many things that could go wrong are going wrong,” Osterholm said. “Any one of them by themselves are a problem, but when you add them all together, you’ve got a real problem.”
There are currently more than 10,000 cases across the U.S. according to the CDC.
Ohio has 78 cases, prompting the state health department to sound the alarm on vaccines. ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says there aren’t enough for people who need them in Ohio currently.
ODH plans to begin a monkeypox case dashboard on its website this month to inform the public of new cases and locations.
The polio virus has been found in New York City sewage, but officials are stressing that the highest risk is for people who haven’t been vaccinated.
Polio was once one of the nation’s most feared diseases, with annual outbreaks causing thousands of cases of paralysis. Its elimination in the U.S. was officially declared in 1979.
Here are some details on polio and the vaccine:
HOW DOES POLIO SPREAD?
Polio is considered very contagious and spreads mostly from person to person, through contaminated water and via fecal particles.
Health officials say the virus also can spread through droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, though that is less common.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Most infected people have no visible symptoms. About a quarter will endure a few days of flu-like symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, headache and nausea.
A small fraction of people, however, can get more serious illnesses. The virus can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis and possibly permanent disability and death.
AREN’T MOST AMERICANS VACCINATED AGAINST POLIO?
U.S. children are still routinely vaccinated against polio and the shots are considered to be highly effective. Federal officials recommend four doses: to be given at 2 months of age; 4 months; at 6 to 18 months; and at age 4 through 6 years. Some states require only three doses.
According to the CDC’s most recent data, about 93% of two-year-olds had received at least three doses of polio vaccine.
IF I AM VACCINATED AGAINST POLIO, DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING?
For most people, no.
Adults who were fully vaccinated as children have protective antibodies in their blood for decades, according to the CDC. In a nationwide study of adults aged 40-49 about a decade ago, around 90% had protective antibodies to the virus.
That said, health officials previously have recommended boosters in some cases, like for adults who are at increased risk of coming in contact with the polio virus because of their travel or work.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM UNVACCINATED?
Health officials recommend that unvaccinated people get the shots. In New York, clinics have been set up to make the vaccines available.
People who are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated are at the greatest risk of paralysis from polio. The person in Rockland County who was diagnosed with paralytic polio was unvaccinated.
A new virus outbreak has been discovered in China, with at least 35 people reportedly sickened so far. Langya Henipavirus, or LayV, has not proven too severe.
No one has died from the illness, with people coming down with familiar symptoms: fever, fatigue, cough and headache, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Taiwan. Although some of the people reportedly did have issues with their liver and/or kidney function after contracting the virus.
The CDC does not have a documented case count of current cases.
However, the CDC Thursday announced relaxed COVID-19 guidelines, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Masks continue to be recommended only in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness.