On Thursday, New York State health officials urged unvaccinated children and adults to get polio vaccinated, citing new evidence of “potential community spread” of the debilitating virus.
So far, the polio virus has been detected in seven sewage samples in Rockland and Orange counties, located next to each other and north of New York.
So far, one person has tested positive for polio: an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County who was paralyzed by the virus.
“Based on earlier outbreaks of polio, New Yorkers should know that for every observed case of paralytic polio, there could be hundreds of other infected people,” Mary Bassett, MD, state health commissioner, said in a statement.
“Combined with the latest data on wastewater, the Department views a single case of polio as just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger potential spread,” she said. “As we learn more, what we know becomes clear: the danger of polio is present in New York City today.”
A polio patient in Rockland County became the first person to be infected with the polio virus in the US in nearly a decade, according to the Associated Press.
Because polio virus was detected in Rockland County sewage samples in early June, the virus was also detected in June and July sewage samples from two Orange County locations, as well as in Rockland County’s July samples.
The CDC found three positives in Rockland County and four positives in Orange County. They are all genetically linked to a case of polio in a Rockland County resident who was paralyzed.
“These results provide additional evidence for local rather than international transmission of the polio virus, which can cause paralysis and potential community spread,” the report said.
But the latest environmental data does not mean a Rockland County resident was the source of the transmission, state health officials said. New York City health officials are working with international, national and local health authorities to find out the origin of the virus.
On Monday, New York City health officials said in another statement that the Global Polio Laboratory Network, which includes the CDC and the World Health Organization, has confirmed that a case in Rockland County is genetically linked to samples from Greater Jerusalem as well as environmental samples in London.
On Thursday, state health officials urged unvaccinated New Yorkers, including children 2 months of age and older, pregnant women and those who have not previously been vaccinated against polio, to get vaccinated immediately. Health officials said unvaccinated people who live, work, attend school, or visit Rockland County, Orange County, and the New York suburbs face the highest risk of infection right now.
The alert states that most children have already been vaccinated in accordance with the New York City School-Age Health Guidelines. New Yorkers who are unsure of their vaccination status should contact their health care provider to get vaccinated or receive a booster dose.
As of August 1, Rockland County has a polio vaccination rate of about 60%, and Orange County has a polio vaccination rate of about 59%, compared to a state average of 79% for children who received three prior polio vaccines. their second birthday.
“This unprecedented spread of polio in our community from a devastating disease that was eradicated from the United States in 1979 must be stopped,” Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, DO, Rockland County Health Commissioner, said in a statement.
“All unvaccinated children and adults should immediately receive their first polio shot,” she said. “The Rockland County Health Department is here to help residents get vaccinated.”
Her department offers polio vaccine at immunization clinics, either by appointment or at fixed hours. Residents can visit the Polio Department’s information page to learn more and make an appointment.
Polio is a life-threatening disease that is highly contagious. The virus can be passed from person to person, and people can pass it on to others even if they are not sick. New York City health officials expressed “high concern” about the spread of the disease by asymptomatic people following a case of polio that caused paralysis.
Symptoms of polio, which can be mild and flu-like, may take up to 30 days to appear. During this time, an infected person can transmit the virus to others. Some cases of polio can lead to paralysis or death, with 5% to 10% of cases of paralysis ending in death due to respiratory muscle failure.
There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through immunization, health officials say. The CDC recommends that all children receive four doses of polio vaccine, with the first dose at 6 weeks to 2 months of age, then the second dose at 4 months, the third at 6 to 18 months of age, and the last dose at 4 months of age. years. and 6.
Adults who are not vaccinated or are not sure if they have been vaccinated should receive three doses. Those who received one or two doses should receive the remaining one or two doses, regardless of how much time has passed since the previous doses.
Adults who are at higher risk of acquiring the polio virus and who have previously completed the routine polio vaccination series may receive one booster dose for life.
In Orange County, wastewater samples that tested positive for the polio virus were collected for the first time at the city’s wastewater treatment plant for testing for COVID-19.
“It is alarming that polio, a disease that was largely eradicated through vaccination, is now circulating in our community, especially given the low rates of vaccination against this debilitating disease in some parts of our country,” Irina Gelman, Ph.D. Sciences, Orange This is stated in the message of the district health commissioner.
“I encourage all unvaccinated Orange County residents to get vaccinated as soon as medically possible,” she said.
New York State Department of Health: “With Call for Immunization, State Department of Health informs New Yorkers about polio found in New York State”, “State Department of Health informs New Yorkers about polio in New York State.”
Associated Press: “Polio fears grow in New York amid possible community spread.”
Rockland County Department of Health: Polio Information.