The New York health department reported the country's first case of polio in almost a decade on Thursday, which has sparked a lot of questions about whether the eradication of the disease was achieved.

In the 24 hours after the news was reported, searches for the word "polio vaccine" spiked more than 5000%. Questions about the symptoms of the disease, how it is spread, and whether it is airborne were some of the topics that were searched for on the internet.

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put together this information.

What is polio? 

Children under the age of 5 are most likely to be affected by the disease, which is a very life threatening disease. It can cause paralysis by spreading from person to person. It has been completely eradicated through vaccinations.

What are some polio symptoms?

Out of 100 people who have been diagnosed with the disease, 72 won't show any symptoms, but one out of four will.

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain

More serious symptoms affecting the brain and spine can be developed by a small percentage of people. Paresthesia and Meningitis are infections of the spine and brain.

One in 200 infections can cause permanent weakness in the arms, legs or both. When their breathing muscles become immobile, 5% to 10% of those who are paralyzed die.

Post-polio syndrome is a condition in which some kids who seem to recover from childhood bouts of the disease can still experience weakness or paralysis as adults.

Is polio contagious, and is polio airborne? 

Person-to-person transmission of the disease is the most common way it is spread. It can be spread from droplets when someone sneezes or coughs.

The only way a person can get the vaccine is through their mouth. The virus can live in a person's feces for a long period of time. According to the CDC, people can get sick if they pick up feces on their hands and then touch their mouth. If you put objects in your mouth that have been contaminated with feces, it can spread.

People with no symptoms can still transmit the disease. Up to two weeks later, a person can be exposed to the vaccine.

How is polio treated? 

There is no cure for the disease, and what treatments are available focus on alleviating or limiting symptoms, according to the WHO. Antispasmodic drugs can be used to relax the muscles, but there is no way to reverse the paralysis caused by the disease.

Health officials say that getting a vaccine is the best way to fight the disease. There is only one vaccine that has been given in the U.S. since 2000 and that is an inactivated vaccine that is given as an injection in the leg or arm. There is a vaccine that is still used in parts of the world even though it is no longer licensed in the U.S. On rare occasions, the vaccine can lose its effectiveness. Someone who got a live vaccine may have created the New York resident's strain of the virus. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, children are more at risk from the disease than from the vaccine.

According to the CDC, 99 to 100 kids will be protected from the disease if they get all four of the recommended shots. According to the World Health Organization, more than 18 million people are able to walk today because of the vaccine against the disease. The most vulnerable people are those who never had a vaccine, those who never received all of the recommended doses, and those who travel to areas that could put them at risk. This is why the U.S. health officials are keeping a close eye on the New York case.

Are polio vaccines still required in the U.S.? Do kids still get polio vaccines? 

The CDC recommends that infants and children receive one dose of the vaccine at 2 months old, one dose at 4 months old, and one dose at 6 months old.

If you follow the vaccine schedule as a child, most adults don't need a vaccine. Three groups are exceptions to the rule and should consider getting vaccine again.

  • Anyone traveling to a country where the risk of getting polio is greater. 
  • Someone working in a laboratory and handling specimens that might contain polioviruses.
  • Healthcare workers treating patients who could have polio, or who have close contact with a person who could be infected with poliovirus.

According to the CDC, these adults should get a single dose at any time, followed by a second dose one to two months later, and a third dose six months to a year after the first. Make sure to check with your doctor. Adults at increased risk of exposure to the disease can get a booster dose of the vaccine.

Where is polio still found today? 

The good news is that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is spearheaded by national governments, WHO,Rotary International, the CDC, UNICEF, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, reports that wildpolio cases can be prevented with a Two of the three strains of wild polioviruses have been certified as global eradication. Pakistan and Afghanistan are affected by wild polioviruses type 1 as of 2020.

Thanks to its vaccine program, the United States has been free of the disease since 1979.

The Rockland County, N.Y. resident who tested positive appeared to have a vaccine-derived strain of the virus, possibly from someone who got a live vaccine but not the U.S. The New York State Department of Health is being consulted by the CDC to investigate how and where the individual was exposed to the disease and to provide protective measures to the community.