An unvaccinated adult in New York has contracted polio, causing concerns about a possible return of the disease. 

Dr. Sameena Hassan, a Novant Health pediatrician, says people should not panic about the discovery.

In addition to the diagnosed case, health officials in New York say the virus had also been found in wastewater samples. That suggests it was spreading among the unvaccinated.

Hassan says the threat of a polio outbreak poses a risk only if a large percentage of the community chooses not to vaccinate.

“Our population in the U.S. — which is incredibly well vaccinated against polio, and has been for many decades — is at very low risk from this one reported case.” 

Polio was once one of the nation's most feared diseases, with annual outbreaks causing thousands of cases of paralysis. In 1979, health officials declared that it had been eliminated in the U.S. That landmark was hailed as one of the nation's greatest public health victories. 

Yet cases have cropped up in the states occasionally since then — most recently in 2013 — often among people from or who had traveled to other countries.

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