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Polio Outbreak: Do you need a polio titer test to check your immunity against the polio epidemic?

September 16, 2022

Jason Ferrier

Is a Polio Outbreak Imminent?

The recent headlines about concerns over a new Polio outbreak almost feel like something pulled from a bygone era.  For current generations, polio feels like something that belongs in the history books, far removed from modern-day concerns.  And yet, the governor of New York state has declared a state of emergency over the recent findings of polio in wastewater from multiple counties.  Other states are already preparing for the possibility of an outbreak and advising doctors to be on the lookout for polio-like symptoms.  Like it or not, this is a real concern.  So how did a disease that we thought had been eradicated return to prominence?  More importantly, how can tools like vaccinations and polio titer testing prevent it from becoming yet another health emergency?

What is Polio?

Polio is a highly contagious viral illness.  It is spread by droplets from an infected person sneezing or coughing. It is also spread through the stool of an infected person.  Infected people who do not wash their hands can spread the infection by handling food or other common items.  In its most severe form, Polio can damage the nervous system leading to paralysis, difficulty breathing, and even death.  Most people who contract the poliovirus do not develop any symptoms.  Some may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting, fatigue, stiffness in the back, neck, arms, or legs, and muscle weakness.  Paralytic polio can begin with symptoms such as loss of reflexes, severe muscle aches or weakness, and lack of coordination.  Anyone who starts to develop these symptoms should follow up with a doctor as soon as possible, especially if they are in an area where Polio is known to be present.

Why is Polio making a resurgence now?

Earlier this year, prior to its discovery in the wastewaters of New York, several countries including England, Israel, Pakistan, and Afghanistan had reported their first polio cases in years. These cases had world health organization on alert for the potential of a resurgence.  The reasons for the re-emergence of Polio are difficult to narrow down.  In general, it has become much easier for infectious diseases to spread than in the past.  In the past 50 years, the world population has nearly doubled.  This means there are a lot more people living in close proximity to each other.  The ease of modern travel makes it is very difficult to keep infectious diseases isolated.  When they appear in one part of the world, there is a high likelihood that they will soon spread to others.  Polio, in particular, can be problematic because while it can cause severe health complications in some people, many who contract the virus are asymptomatic but still capable of passing it to others.  Some experts also blame an overall increase in skepticism towards the efficacy and safety of vaccines.  Declines in vaccination rates mean that illnesses that were previously thought all but eliminated may be able to get a foothold again.   

How to prevent the spread of Polio

At the moment, polio has not been found in the United States outside of New York.  However, many health officials are preparing for the eventuality of it spreading beyond a single state.    While there has so far been only one confirmed case of paralytic Polio in New York, health officials are taking no chances.  One of the benefits of the current state of emergency in New York is that it requires the reporting of vaccination data to the department of health.  This allows them to focus their attention on areas with low vaccination rates.  Vaccination is considered the most effective way of preventing the spread of Polio.  Current Polio vaccines are up to 99% effective at preventing infection. Knowing your vaccine status is important. The counties where polio has been detected so far all have low polio vaccination rates, especially among young children.  The department of health is urging anyone who has not been vaccinated for polio to get a vaccine.  Anyone who does not know their polio immune status should get a titer test to check.  A simple blood test can let a person know if they have immunity to polio.  Anyone who is already immune should have a high level of protection from the virus.  Anyone who doesn’t should strongly consider getting vaccinated, not only to protect their own health but that of the people around them.

How can I get a Polio Titer Test?    

Even people who don’t live in New York should take notice of the potential health risk caused by polio.  The risk of the virus spreading to other parts of the US means that nobody should assume they are beyond its reach.  If you don’t know whether you have had a polio vaccine, a titer blood test is a quick easy way to check.  Request A Test partners with 2 of the largest lab companies in the United States to make it easy for anyone to order their own lab testing.  There’s no need to visit your doctor or check with your insurance provider.  Just order right from our website or call to have a live team member assist with placing your order.  You can order a test and get tested at a lab near you as early as the same day.  Getting tested can give you the knowledge you need about your polio immune status.  We also offer a variety of other titer tests for infectious diseases.  If you’re unsure of your immune status, getting tested is the way to find out.  These tests can also help you avoid getting additional vaccines you may not need.  If you’re already protected, you can have the peace of mind of knowing your health and that of your loved ones are protected.  Don’t wait.  Order titer testing today, or call Request A Test at 1-888-732-2348 for more information.


DISCLAIMER: The medical information in this post is for informative purposes only.

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