Malawi. Mozambique. Israel. UK. United States.

In the past year, all have detected poliovirus.

Polio cases were first reported in Malawi and Mozambique earlier this year, setting off alarm bells around the world. The wild poliovirus hadn’t been detected in either country for 30 years, and the entire African region was certified free of the wild poliovirus in 2020.

In March, Israel detected its first case of polio since 1989 in a young boy from Jerusalem.

In June, health authorities in the UK detected poliovirus in multiple wastewater samples taken in northeast London.

And then in July, the New York State Department of Health reported a polio case in an unvaccinated young man from New York. It was the first polio case recorded in the U.S. in over a decade.

In light of these developments, here are six things to know about polio right now.

What is polio? 
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. Most people infected with poliovirus will not experience any symptoms, and around 25% of people infected will experience flu-like symptoms. However, around 1 in 200 people will become paralyzed from the virus, which leads to permanent disability and can cause death. Once someone is infected with polio, there is no cure. Vaccines are the only way to prevent and stop the disease from spreading.

Was the same type of polio detected in all these countries? 
No. The type of poliovirus detected in Jerusalem, London, and New York is a form of poliovirus called circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, which is not the same as the wild poliovirus detected in Malawi and Mozambique.

Read the full article about polio by Elizabeth Thrush at United Nations Foundation.