Unvaccinated man in Rockland County, N.Y., diagnosed with polio

The first U.S. case of polio in nearly a decade has been confirmed in an unvaccinated individual in Rockland County, N.Y., local and state health officials announced Thursday.

While the origins of the case are still being investigated, the 20-year-old man had traveled to Poland and Hungary this year and was hospitalized in June, according to a public health official close to the investigation who was not authorized to speak on the record.

He was initially diagnosed with a possible case of acute flaccid myelitis, caused by inflammation of the spinal cord that results in severe muscle weakness and paralysis.

But subsequent testing detected a type of polio that indicates transmission from outside the United States, according to a joint alert Thursday from the New York State Health Department and Rockland County.

The patient has since been discharged and living at his parents’ home with his wife. He is able to stand, but is having difficulty walking, the official said.

Rockland County and New York State health officials Thursday alerted clinicians to be vigilant for additional cases. Asked about the possibility of more polio cases emerging locally, Rockland County Health Commissioner Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said at a news conference, “We only have the one case. Let’s hope that’s all we find.”

Rockland County Executive Ed Day said the patient who is infected is not contagious.

“Right now, the risk to the vaccinated public is low, but experts are working to understand how and where this individual was infected,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

Officials did not elaborate on why the patient is no longer contagious. But he sought treatment at a hospital in New York City around June 20, the official said.