For the first time in a generation, polio has returned in the US as reported by Yahoo Finance.
On July 18, the New York State Department of Health told the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention it had detected the poliovirus, which can cause paralysis or death in a small percentage of cases, in a young adult from Rockland County outside New York City.
New York authorities subsequently detected the virus in sewage in Rockland and neighbouring Orange County—evidence of transmission in the local community.
That first case prompted authorities in the U.K. and Israel to increase their surveillance—they found polio too.
But despite describing polio as “one of the most feared diseases in the U.S.,” the CDC is trying to maintain total government control over testing for the poliovirus.
Only the feds and certain states that already do polio testing would be equipped to monitor for the pathogen.
“They want to do it themselves,” Vincent Racaniello, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University, told The Daily Beast.
“Just as they wanted to control the COVID tests at the beginning of the pandemic.”
The thing is, even the CDC admits that it botched the initial response to COVID.
Last week Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, told the agency’s 11,000 employees that the CDC needed a top-to-bottom overhaul.
“To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes, from testing to data to communications,” Walensky said.
The CDC might be about to repeat some of its mistakes.
The poliovirus spreads through direct contact with faecal matter.
By the 1970s, the disease had virtually disappeared from all but a handful of the poorest and most remote countries, such as Afghanistan.
The CDC tracked the poliovirus in a U.S. community just once between 1979 and 2022.
Three other kids got sick before the virus was contained.
Today 90% or more of people in the richest countries, including the U.S., are vaccinated against polio.
The public-health stakes couldn’t be higher as the world copes not only with the ongoing COVID pandemic but also with an accelerating outbreak of monkeypox.
“Without the primers and other materials, private labs—and researchers associated with those labs—can’t help the government find polio in other communities.
Which did not work out well,” Racaniello noted in a tweet.
The worst-case scenario is that polio spreads for weeks without anyone realizing it—much in the way monkeypox spread unnoticed at first, as many doctors mistook it for herpes or some other sexually transmitted disease.
The CDC’s recalcitrance appears to be bureaucratic.
Take a sample from sewage, and run a PCR test.
But in the U.S., the regulations regarding polio are stricter than for other diseases.
Polio surveillance, he added, is a “paperwork nightmare to get set up.”
And the labs might want the government’s help paying for it.
CDC leaders may have noted the growing reluctance of the U.S. Congress to pay for COVID testing and concluded that it’s just easier for the CDC to keep polio testing in-house.
But easier doesn’t necessarily mean better, not when public health is concerned.
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Source: Yahoo Finance