The New York health department reported the country’s first case of polio in almost a decade on Thursday, which has sparked plenty of questions about whether polio was eradicated, who still gets vaccinated against the potentially paralyzing virus, as well as how it spreads. In fact, Google queries for “is polio vaccine required in the U.S.” and “do kids get polio vaccines?” spiked more than 5,000% in the 24 hours after the news was reported, according to the Alphabet-owned
search engine’s trending search data. Questions about polio symptoms, how it spreads and whether the virus is airborne were also breakout Google searches following the new polio case.
So here’s what you need to know about polio, drawn from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is polio? Poliomyelitis (aka polio) is a very contagious, disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus that largely affects children under 5. It spreads from person-to-person, and can infect the spinal cord, which can lead to paralysis. But it has been largely eradicated across the globe through vaccination. What are some polio symptoms? While 72 out of 100 people infected with the poliovirus won’t show any visible symptoms, one out of four people with poliovirus present the following flu-like symptoms that usually last two to five days:
A smaller proportion of people (less than one in 100) can develop more serious symptoms affec …