Polio Outbreak Expanding in New York

The head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Jose R Romero, believes that “many people” in New York City now carry the polio virus and urges all people to get vaccinated. 

a doctor showing polio vaccination
Text POLIO VACCINE of is written on a bottle with the background of a doctor with a syringe in a medical glove and mask. Medical concept.

Dr. Romero made this comment after officials found the polio virus in New York City’s wastewater. “The risk to New Yorkers is real but the defense is so simple — get vaccinated against polio,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. “With polio circulating in our communities there is simply nothing more essential than vaccinating our children to protect them from this virus, and if you’re unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated adult, please choose now to get the vaccine. Polio is entirely preventable and its reappearance should be a call to action for all of us.”

The oral polio vaccine is available at most clinics, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities in the city.

About Polio

PV1, the most common and most dangerous form of this virus, is a gastrointestinal virus. Common symptoms include mild diarrhea, low fever, and sore throat. These symptoms usually dissipate in about two weeks. However, people continue carrying and spreading PV1 for up to six weeks. 

In about 1 percent of cases, the virus migrates to the central nervous system. That’s when serious problems arise, such as aseptic meningitis (brain swelling) and paralysis. Usually, acute flaccid paralysis affects the legs. If it spreads as far as the lungs, polio is fatal. Once it’s contracted, polio is untreatable and incurable.

PV1 spreads through contaminated food and beverages, so if there’s a polio outbreak in the area, almost everyone is at risk.

The United States and many other countries experienced severe polio outbreaks beginning in the late 1800s. Finally, in 1950, a doctor at the University of Pittsburgh developed a vaccine that was about 80 percent effective in clinical trials. Two years later, one of his colleagues, Jonas Salk, improved the vaccine’s effectiveness to 99 percent.

In a little less than two generations, polio (poliomyelitis) has gone from one of the most feared childhood diseases to an almost nonexistent threat. This reduction is entirely thanks to the polio vaccine, yet some view this and many other vaccines as controversial.

Legal Issues

Perhaps the greatest incentive for polio vaccination is the reduced health threat to our society. To protect the most vulnerable among us, steps must be taken which may require some personal sacrifices. Roughly this same principle applies in a court of law. If a company has an opportunity to contain a dangerous or deadly disease outbreak, it must act appropriately, even if that action involves some economic cost.

Usually, directives from a public health agency establish the standard of care in a particular situation. If an individual or company’s behavior falls below the standard of care, and someone is hurt as a result of that neglect, the individual or company is responsible for damages. At a minimum, adhering to the standard of care means strictly enforcing all public health rules. 

A lot is at stake. If negligence causes injury, a New York personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, like pain and suffering. In some extreme cases, additional punitive damages may be available.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC.