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A case of polio has been reported in Rockland, New York, on July 21. It is the first case of polio in the US in decades.

In 1979, polio was declared eliminated in the U.S., meaning there was no longer routine spread. The Rockland County case was an unvaccinated patient who had a vaccine-derived strain of the virus that indicates it would have been contracted by someone who got a live dose used by a country outside the US; in rare instances, people given the live virus can spread it to other people who haven’t been vaccinated.

On the first of August, the New York State Department of Health issued an update on polio in New York State. Following analysis from the CDC, the polio virus was detected in samples from June in Rockland County. These findings underscore the critical importance of vaccination to protect all New Yorkers and New York children against polio.

There are concerns about the potential spread of polio in New York, with the state health commissioner saying there could be "hundreds" of people infected as new evidence shows the virus has been found in samples from multiple counties.

Polio Vaccines

Vaccines became available starting in 1955, and a national vaccination campaign cut the annual number of U.S. cases to less than 100 in the 1960s and fewer than 10 in the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York health officials are urgently calling for people who are unvaccinated to receive their shots as soon as possible. All New Yorkers who are unvaccinated, including children by 2 months of age, those who are pregnant, and people who have not completed their polio vaccine series previously should get immunized right away. Unvaccinated New Yorkers who live, work, go to school in, or visit Rockland County, Orange County, and the greater New York metropolitan area are at the highest risk of exposure.