For the first time since 1989, a case of polio was discovered in a boy in Jerusalem, Israel. According to the country’s Health Ministry, the child had not been vaccinated against the disease. As such, the Health Ministry implored any families whose children are behind on their vaccination schedule to get them up to speed as soon as possible. An investigation is now being conducted by the Jerusalem Health Bureau in the hopes of making sure that anyone with recent contact to the boy is safe and healthy.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the child is 3 years and 9 months old “and showed symptoms of paralysis, said Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesman for the WHO.” The good news is that the child has not needed any hospitalization. The child reportedly has the less dangerous form of the virus, not the “wild poliovirus” that is more prevalent in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This announcement does not mean that there is an imminent outbreak on the horizon, but it is significant because of the human diagnosis. According to the Times of Israel, traces of the virus had been found in sewage samples in the area where the child lived, a marker that many health organizations use in the modern era to monitor the potential for outbreak. This has happened a few times throughout the last few decades, but no person has actually been diagnosed with the eradicated disease in Israel for decades. In 2013, a number of polio findings in sewage monitoring led Israel to implement a large-scale drive to immunize its children, with health officials declaring a victory in January of 2014 over the disease’s potential spread.
The United States, with the bizarre GOP marriage to anti-vaccine, anti-science organizations, has been threatening to not only turn back the clock on education—with book bans becoming a conservative think tank movement—but on public health. In recent weeks, Georgia Republicans have proposed a bill that would potentially end the requirements for children attending school to be vaccinated against the most basic of childhood illnesses, including polio. The GOP’s only policy prescription these days is one that equates to giving people the freedom to do all of the stupid shit that we as human beings have supposedly learned not to do anymore. This new evil union has only become a part of the conservative movement in recent years as they have harnessed anti-establishment sentiments and leeriness of the professional class into an all out assault on the concept of democracy. The problem isn’t big government, it’s big democracy.
In recent years there have been polio outbreaks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chad, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Sudan, Cameroon, Angola, Congo, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, where the disease has yet to be eradicated. In February, after an imported case of wild polio into Africa from Pakistan was diagnosed for the first time in years, the World Health Organization tweeted: “Any case of wild polio virus is a significant event. As long as wild polio exists anywhere in the world, all countries remain at risk of importation of the virus.”
The polio vaccine is administered in four doses orally, along with vaccines for other childhood diseases as well as flu and tetanus. After the second dose, the recipient should have around 90% protection against polio. Right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 92.6% of children younger than 2 have received at least three of their vaccine doses.
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